Geospatial analysis of the urban and rural/remote distribution of dental services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

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Abstract

Aim: To address deficits in human resources for oral health data (HROH) in rural and remote areas in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland by spatially profiling and modelling the distribution pattern of dental practices according to Health Boards. Methods: National Health Service (NHS) dental practices were located and mapped against population and rural–urban classifications of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, using Geographic Information System (GIS) tools. All data collected were at the smallest geographical statistical hierarchy level in each country, and population data were retrieved from the 2011 census. Results: A total of 1,695 NHS dental practices were mapped against 27 Health Board regions. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, 18.3%, 18.7% and 7.7%, respectively, of the population living in the most remote areas resided within 2.5 km of a dental practice. In each country, the Health Boards with the largest proportion of the population living more than 10 km from a dental practice were the Western Isles (Scotland), Western Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT) (Northern Ireland) and Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) (Wales). In each country, the highest practice-to-population (PtP) ratios were found in Forth Valley (1:7,194) (Scotland), Southern HSCT (1:5,115) (Northern Ireland) and Hywel Dda UHB (Wales) (1:7,907). Conclusion: Dental services are distributed unequally between urban and rural areas. PtP ratios coupled with GIS analysis are important tools to improve HROH distribution.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Dental Journal
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Aug 2020

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