Medical professionals' oral health knowledge, attitudes & related practices performed for high caries-risk children [thesis]

Yousef Mohammed Yousef
The past few decades have witnessed an increased focus on the importance of oral health on the social, psychological and developmental well-being of children. Although effective and advanced dental prevention measures and treatment options are increasingly available, dental decay remains one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in the United States and around the world. (Passel, 2002) Recently, the World Health Organization Assembly called attention to the significant burden oral
more » ... e has maintained in all countries around the world. In response to this issue there has been renewed focus on combating access to oral health care issues. (WHO, 2010) One approach that has been suggested is the utilization of non-dental health professionals in assessing oral health, performing basic preventive steps and referral of highcaries risk children for further care. These non-dental professionals are often in a better position to evaluate children at an early age, are more likely to see poor children early and to provide care for them on a continuing basis when compared to dentists. (Lewis, 2004) However, several barriers have been mentioned in the literature that prevent or deter these non-dental health professionals from taking on a more active role in this access to care issue. Of which, has been a reported lack in oral care education and training for medical care professionals. Additionally, collectively few studies have specifically identified the importance of different suggested influencing factors. (Mouradian, 2005) In our present paper, we reported on three main studies that were conducted in an effort to better understand these barriers. In our first study a 22-item survey was mailed to all licensed pediatricians in the state of Iowa. The main research questions revolved around what factors influence the ability and willingness of Iowa pediatricians' to assess and refer high caries-risk children. In our second and third studies we targeted Saudi medical interns with an electronic educational intervention program over the course of a month. Both a pre-and post-test were performed to evaluate the effectiveness of this program in improving intern' knowledge, willingness, and comfort levels in identifying children who are at high risk for developing dental caries. Appropriate bivariate and regression analysis methods were used to analyze the data. Collectively, these three analyses lead us to several main conclusions and future education recommendations. Educating medical practitioners and students about basic oral health recommendations and referral guidelines provides an excellent opportunity to alert medical professionals about the importance and timing of these dental referrals. Ultimately, earlier referrals by physicians can help improve dental utilization among high risk children, especially among lower income and rural families. Additionally, providing these medical professionals with experience opportunities in assessing the oral health of young children may improve both physician willingness and likelihood to perform various oral health practices for young children. Overall, increasing both knowledge and personal experience of training physicians' could lead to greater comfort levels in dealing with oral health issues affecting young children. Furthermore, establishing effective care coordinator services to assist in linking various health care professionals more directly; may also increase physician willingness to assess and refer high-caries-risk children by making the referral process easier for physician offices. This step helps in saving time and effort, two deterrents noted by physicians. Abstract Approved: ___________________________ Thesis Supervisor ___________________________
doi:10.17077/etd.op2of01m fatcat:hjtedzm5lfh2zn6ih5pwy7rz5y