Identifying the gaps in public dental services locations for people living with a disability in metropolitan Australia: A geographic information system (GIS)-based approach

Nicholas Liu, Estie Kruger, Marc Tennant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study was to identify the gaps in public dental service locations for people living with a disability in Australia, with in-depth analysis of Western Australia (WA). Methods: Data from the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers and national census data were used to geographically model the prevalence of disability. Private and public dental practice data were integrated using QGIS, and a catchment area of 5 km was used for public dental practices. This was then used to identify residential areas outside the 5-km catchment area. Further analysis was then done to determine how a potential service at these sites would improve geographic access for people with a disability residing within the area. Results: In this study, 6162 private and 178 public dental practices were geo-coded, covering 39 915 Statistical Area Level 1 regions and approximately 16 million people. Overall slightly more than half the people living with any disability resided within the 5-km catchment area of a public dental practice. WA (Perth) had the lowest coverage (48%), whereas New South Wales (Sydney) had the highest (71%). In WA (Perth), four sites were identified that would improve the overall coverage from 48% to 75%. Conclusion: This study highlights the areas where there is low access to a dental service, particularly access to a public dental service, for people living with a disability. What is known about the topic?: The distribution of people with a disability is associated with area-level measures of socioeconomic disadvantage. Access to dental care is a function of affordability, availability, accessibility, accommodation and acceptability. Previous studies identified problems in relation to access to dental care for people living with a disability, including wait times, costs and physical access to buildings. What does this paper add?: This paper shows how geographical access to a dental service can be improved, by locating services in identified areas targeting people living with a disability. What are the implications for practitioners?: The results of this study could be used to plan funding targeted at areas of need with a high burden of disease and low accessibility to services.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Health Review
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Nov 2020

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