New publication: “Disparities in Caregivers’ Experiences at the Dentist With Their Young Child"
This study's objective is to understand the experiences of diverse families when taking their young children to the dentist and to document their prevalence. An exploratory sequential design was used. First, 4 focus groups (N = 33) comprised of low-income female caregivers of children under 6 years of age were conducted in English and Spanish. Discussions centered around facilitators and barriers to taking children to the dentist. Themes derived from the groups were then used to create a survey that was given to 1184 caregivers in English, Spanish, or Vietnamese. Thematic coding of focus groups found little support for typically reported barriers to pediatric oral health care utilization (eg, transportation, cost, knowledge); instead, caregivers reported negative experiences (eg, restraint, separation) as barriers. In the surveys, 66% of caregivers reported being separated from their children, 25% reported that their children were restrained (53.7% for cleanings), 26% of children were given sedating medication for cleanings, and 22% of the caregivers reported experiences that made them not want to return to the dentist. The prevalence of these experiences differed significantly among Latino, Asian, and Caucasian families and for annual incomes under or above $50,000. Families with lower incomes and/or from ethnic and linguistic minority groups were more likely to report negative experiences at the dentist than higher income and Caucasian families. These data document the high prevalence of negative experiences and suggest ethnic, financial, and linguistic disparities in the quality of experiences. More research is needed on the role of dentists in facilitating or hindering oral health care utilization among diverse families.
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