Building oral health capacity in a women's health service

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Adult women in Australia are more likely than men to have no teeth, more missing teeth or have a dental hospital admission. Experiences of war, family and domestic violence, mental health or alcohol and other drug use problems may also negatively affect women's oral health. Yet, oral health is often excluded from primary healthcare. Little is known about what helps or inhibits primary healthcare service workers to promote oral health to women in need. Identifying the perceptions and experiences of such workers is a step towards a strategy to develop resources to support them in raising oral health issues with disadvantaged clients. This paper presents findings from a qualitative study conducted at a community-based women's health service, which used focus groups to investigate workers' perceptions of promoting oral health and accessing services for their clients. Findings indicated how structural issues informed oral healthcare, where workers generally did not consider oral health their responsibility, were reluctant to raise the issue with clients and had limited oral health knowledge and resources. To overcome these barriers, workers identified the need for oral health resources and better linkages to the dental system to help support their clients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-421
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2018


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