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UAlbany’s Center for Health Workforce Studies Investigates Barriers To Oral Health Services for People With Special Needs

A survey was developed to evaluate the attitudes and willingness of general and specialty dentists to treat people with special needs and to identify the barriers to greater participation by dentists in the care of these patients. Overall, 766 dentists responded to the survey.

The Oral Health Workforce Research Center (OHWRC) at the University at Albany’s Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS) completed a recent research study in collaboration with the Health Policy Institute at the American Dental Association (ADA), the Specialty Care Dentistry Association (SCDA), and the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD). A survey was developed to evaluate the attitudes and willingness of general and specialty dentists to treat people with special needs and to identify the barriers to greater participation by dentists in the care of these patients. Overall, 766 dentists responded to the survey.

Survey respondents indicated that the most common accommodations provided by dentists who were treating people with special needs included increased time to complete the patient appointment as well as structural features such as wide hallways and corridors, wheel-chair ramps, easy transfer to dental chairs, and the ability to treat patients in their own chairs. Dentists who did not treat people with special needs identified the main barriers to serving this population as not being Medicaid providers, not having appointment requests from such patients, and not having a dental office properly equipped to accommodate people with special needs.

Training or experience working with people with special needs thorough continuing education, community involvement and didactic education, and clinical training in residency programs had the most impact on dentists who reported serving “many” people with special needs. Education in dental schools and experience with family or friends with special needs also were significantly associated with the likelihood of a dentist providing care for “many” people with special needs.

To view the report, visit the CHWS website at chwsny.org.

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