Oral health care in remote Kimberley Aboriginal communities: the characteristics and perceptions of dental volunteers

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Abstract

© 2015 Australian Dental Association. Background Aboriginal Australians face significant disparities in oral health and this is particularly the case in remote communities where access to dental services can be difficult. Using volunteers to provide dental care in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia is a novel approach. Methods This study comprised an anonymous online survey of volunteers working with the Kimberley Dental Team (KDT). The survey had a response fraction of 66% and explored volunteer demographic characteristics, factors that motivated their involvement, perceptions of oral health among Aboriginal communities, and barriers and enablers to oral health in remote Aboriginal communities. Results Volunteers were more likely to be female, middle-aged and engaged in full-time employment. The two most common reasons reported for volunteering were to assist the community and visit the Kimberley region. Education and access to reliable, culturally appropriate care were perceived as enablers to good oral health for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley while limited access to services, poor nutrition and lack of government support were cited as barriers. Conclusions Volunteers providing dental services to remote areas in Western Australia had a diverse demographic profile. However, they share similar motivating factors and views on the current barriers and enablers to good oral health in remote Aboriginal communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-335
JournalAustralian Dental Journal
Volume60
Issue number3
Early online date29 Jul 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

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