Dental professionals’ perspectives working with Aboriginal children in Western Australia: a qualitative study

Angela Durey, Lydia Hearn, Stephan Lund, Martin O'Grady, Linda Slack-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


Background: The disproportionate burden of oral disease in Aboriginal children and the issues in accessing mainstream
dental services are well documented. Yet little is known about dental professionals’ perspectives in providing oral care
for Aboriginal children. This paper presents findings from a study exploring such perspectives.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were carried out in Western Australia following purposive sampling of non-Aboriginal
dentists, dental clinic assistants (dental nurses) and oral health therapists/dental hygienists. Interviews were recorded,
transcribed and analysed guided by grounded theory for key themes related to the topic.
Results: Findings included a service delivery model sometimes unresponsive to Aboriginal families’ needs; dental professionals’
limited education and training to work with confidence and cultural sensitivity with Aboriginal patients and
socioeconomic influences on Aboriginal children’s poor oral health considered outside dental professionals’ remit of care.
Discussion: Findings suggest oral health policies and practices and dental professionals’ education and training need
reviewing for how well such policies support dental professionals in an Aboriginal context. This includes engaging with
Aboriginal stakeholders, working effectively with Aboriginal families, and developing shared understandings about what
is needed to increase access to care and improve oral health outcomes for Aboriginal children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-253
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Dental Journal
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


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