Health visitors’ views on promoting oral health and supporting clients with dental health problems: a qualitative study

Jonathan Lewney, Richard Holmes, Judith Rankin, Catherine Exley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Background
Inequalities in dental decay in young children persist, resulting in high admission rates for general anaesthetics for tooth extractions. Health visitors have the potential to improve dental attendance and oral health in families least likely to engage with dental services. There is little evidence on health visitor views on this.

Methods
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 17 health visitors working in both affluent and deprived areas in a single UK city. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, anonymized and analysed following a constructivist grounded theory approach.

Results
Knowledge of oral health was high and health visitors requested oral health education specific to the communities they worked in. Health visitors reported effective, formal referral processes to other health services but not to primary NHS dental services even when dealing with infants in pain. Health visitors interviewed were largely unaware of specific NHS dental services which reduce barriers to dental care including interpreting services and dental services for children with additional needs.

Conclusions
Health visitors interviewed were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about oral health but not about dental services. Inadequate links with NHS dental services may limit their effectiveness in oral health improvement and this needs to be addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number fdy107
Pages (from-to)e103–e108
JournalJournal of Public Health
Volume41
Issue number1
Early online date18 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jun 2018

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