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Barriers to Dental Care in Individuals with Special Healthcare Needs in Qatif, Saudi Arabia: A Caregiver’s Perspective

Authors Alfaraj A, Halawany HS, Al-Hinai MT, Al-Badr AH, Alalshaikh M, Al-Khalifa KS

Received 9 November 2020

Accepted for publication 16 December 2020

Published 22 January 2021 Volume 2021:15 Pages 69—76

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S291255

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen


Amal Alfaraj,1 Hassan S Halawany,2 Muntasar T Al-Hinai,3 Abid H Al-Badr,2 Marwa Alalshaikh,4 Khalifa S Al-Khalifa5

1Prosthodontics Residency Program, Department of Prosthodontics, School of Dentistry, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA; 2Department of Periodontics and Community Dentistry, College of Dentistry, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; 3Dental and Maxillofacial Surgery Department, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman; 4Periodontics Fellowship Program, College of Dentistry, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia; 5Department of Preventive Dental Sciences, College of Dentistry, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence: Amal Alfaraj
Prosthodontics Residency Program, Department of Prosthodontics, School of Dentistry, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA
Email asalfara@iu.edu

Objective: Access to dental care is a key factor influencing oral health outcomes. Individuals with special healthcare needs are at risk of not having access to dental care services which they need to maintain their oral health. This study assessed the magnitude of this problem and identified barriers responsible for the difficulties in accessing dental care in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, as reported by caregivers of individuals with special healthcare needs.
Methods: This cross-sectional study collected data using a self-administered survey questionnaire from caregivers of individuals with special healthcare needs across 11 centers (eight special needs centers and three schools) in Qatif, Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, between February and April 2019.
Results: A total of 186 caregivers participated in the study, 102 (54.8%) of whom reported difficulties in getting access to dental care. The key barriers included lack of time on the part of caregivers (60.8%), unsuitable clinic environment (53.9%), difficulties with transportation (51.9%), medical/health status of the individual with special healthcare needs (51.0%), and geographically distant dental clinics (51.0%). Caregiver demographics (age, gender, and educational level) had no significant influence on the difficulties reported by caregivers in getting access to dental care for individuals with special healthcare needs (p> 0.05).
Conclusion: A large proportion of caregivers in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, experience difficulties with access to dental care services for individuals with special healthcare needs. The most common barriers are physical accessibility of dental facilities (for individuals with special healthcare needs), affordability, and lack of skills and knowledge of dental care providers.

Keywords: health services accessibility, dental care for disabled, caregivers, Saudi Arabia

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