Universal access to oral health care for Australian children: Comparison of travel times to public dental services at consecutive census dates as an indicator of progressive realisation

Gillian Jean, Estie Kruger, Marc Tennant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Progressive realisation of equitable access to health services is a fundamental measure of a state's resolve to achieve universal health coverage. The World Health Organization has reprioritised the importance of oral health services as an integral element of the roadmap towards health equity. This study sought to determine whether there is an indication of progressive realisation of equitable spatial access to public dental services for Australians <18 years of age through a comparison of travel times to the nearest public dental clinic at successive census dates. The distribution of children classified by rural remoteness and level of socioeconomic disadvantage, as well as the location of public dental clinics at the 2011 and 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics censuses, was mapped using geographic imaging software. OpenRouteService software was used to calculate the travel time by car between each statistical census district and the nearest public dental clinic. There has been an improvement in the percentage of the population <18 years of age living within a reasonable travel time of a public dental clinic. The most socioeconomically disadvantaged groups in more densely populated areas have better spatial access to publicly funded dental services than less disadvantaged groups. Children living in very remote areas continue to experience lengthy travel times to access fixed oral health services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2020

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