Online Program

County Health Department, Community Partners and Medical School Research Unit Use Four Different Methodologies to Measure Local Children's Oral Health Needs

Monday, November 2, 2015

Deborah Lischwe, MS, Health Systems Research, Division of Health Policy and Social Science Research, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford, Rockford, IL
Debra Quackenbush, MPH, CHES, McHenry County Department of Health, Woodstock, IL
Many communities face significant challenges in meeting their population’s oral health needs, especially the low-income and minority groups.  Identifying the needs is the first step in addressing them. McHenry County has a fairly large Hispanic population, reaching 45% of residents in Harvard, Illinois.   

To measure children’s oral health needs in this northern Illinois county, McHenry County Department of Health in conjunction with Health Systems Research of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford used a collaborative planning process to employ four separate methodologies:  focus groups of targeted populations, interviews with community leaders and local dental providers, survey of parents of school-aged children, and collection of existing local data about demographics and oral health. Three of these methods produced “primary” data that were specifically generated for this project, while the collection of existing local data involved a synthesis of “secondary” data from a wide variety of sources, many of which are available to most communities.

Using both quantitative and qualitative data enabled a broad, comprehensive and multi-dimensional view of this community’s oral health needs. Findings revealed the capacity of local dentists, access problems involving existing services, gaps and barriers to care, current parental knowledge and attitudes about children’s oral health, as well as best ways to communicate messages. 

Oral health literacy emerged as the leading unmet community need.  Recommendations were offered about ways to expand access, improve oral health knowledge, and build effective parental behaviors about their children’s oral health.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Program planning
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Compare the rationale and value of each assessment tool/method for measuring community oral health needs Identify the importance of using a multidimensional model for assessing needs.

Keyword(s): Oral Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I direct a research unit of a medical school that works with local health departments, health systems and social service organizations in northwest Illinois to measure community health problems and needs. I have presented at five APHA annual meetings during the past decade.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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