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Factors that influence the preventive care offered to adolescents accessing Public Oral Health Services, NSW, Australia

Authors Masoe A, Blinkhorn A, Taylor J, Blinkhorn F

Received 10 March 2015

Accepted for publication 22 April 2015

Published 19 June 2015 Volume 2015:6 Pages 101—113


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 8

Editor who approved publication: Professor Steven Youngentob

Angela V Masoe,1 Anthony S Blinkhorn,2 Jane Taylor,1 Fiona A Blinkhorn1

1School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Oral Health, University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, NSW, Australia; 2Department of Population Oral Health, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Sydney, Westmead, NSW, Australia

Background: Many adolescents are at risk of dental caries and periodontal disease, which may be controlled through health education and clinical preventive interventions provided by oral health and dental therapists (therapists). Senior clinicians (SCs) can influence the focus of dental care in the New South Wales (NSW) Public Oral Health Services as their role is to provide clinical support and advice to therapists, advocate for their communities, and inform Local Health District (LHD) managers of areas for clinical quality improvement. The objective of this study was to record facilitating factors and strategies that are used by SCs to encourage therapists to provide preventive care and advice to adolescent patients.
Methods: In-depth, semistructured interviews were undertaken with 16 SCs from all of the 15 NSW LHDs (nine rural and six metropolitan). A framework matrix was used to systematically code data and enable key themes to be identified for analysis.
Results: All SCs from the 15 NSW Health LHDs participated in the study. Factors influencing SCs' ability to integrate preventive care into clinical practice were: 1) clinical leadership and administrative support, 2) professional support network, 3) clinical and educational resources, 4) the clinician's patient management aptitude, and 5) clinical governance processes. Clinical quality improvement and continuing professional development strategies equipped clinicians to manage and enhance adolescents' confidence toward self-care.
Conclusion: This study shows that SCs have a clear understanding of strategies to enhance the therapist's offer of scientific-based preventive care to adolescents. The problem they face is that currently, success is measured in terms of relief of pain activities, restorations placed, and extraction of teeth, which is an outdated concept. However, to improve clinical models of care will require the overarching administrative authority, NSW Health, to accept that the scientific evidence relating to dental care has changed and that management monitoring information should be incorporated into NSW Health reforms.

Keywords: preventive oral health care, scientific evidence, dental therapists and oral health therapists' clinical practice

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