Reorienting a paediatric oral health service towards prevention: lessons from a qualitative study of dental professionals
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Issue addressed: Reorienting primary care dental services towards prevention is a priority for improving the oral health of Australian children with extensive dental caries. We explored the attitudes and beliefs of dental staff about the factors that helped or hindered the establishment and implementation of a hospital-based parent counselling program to manage existing, and prevent new, carious lesions in children. A further aim was to explore the influence of the program on the hospital's reorientation to prevention. Methods: Eight of nine program staff participated in two focus group interviews, and two co-ordinating staff participated in semi-structured interviews. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Interview recordings and transcripts were analysed by qualitative thematic analysis. Results: The participants identified a number of factors that they felt influenced the establishment and implementation of the program, including the dental team's support of the initiative, the advantages of building on existing clinic infrastructure and procedures, the utility of harnessing dental assistants as a resource for oral health promotion, and the confidence of dental professionals to provide parent counselling. Conclusion: Efforts to establish a preventive program in a public paediatric dental service should ensure that all members of the dental team are engaged during all phases of the program, that dental assistants are trained and supported to deliver parent counselling, and that interprofessional partnerships with services such as dietetics are fostered.
Health Promotion Journal of Australia
Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified