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JOURNAL ARTICLE

General dentists' perceptions of educational and treatment issues affecting access to care for children with special health care needs

Paul S Casamassimo, N Sue Seale, Kelley Ruehs
Journal of Dental Education 2004, 68 (1): 23-8
14761169
This study analyzed a data subset of a national survey of general dentists conducted in 2001 to determine their overall care of children with special health care needs (CSHCN). In the survey, dentists were asked to respond to questions in the following areas: did they provide care for CSHCN (children with cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and those who are medically compromised); what were their perceptions of the training they received in dental school related to CSHCN; what was their interest in additional training for CSHCN; and what factors influenced their willingness to provide care for CSHCN? Only about 10 percent see CSHCN often or very often, and only one in four respondents had hands-on experience with these patients in dental school. Postgraduate education in general practice or advanced general dentistry residency had no effect on willingness to care for CSHCN. Older dentists, those accepting Medicaid for all children, and those practicing in small communities were more likely to see CSHCN. Dentists willing to see CSHCN also were more likely to perform procedures associated with special needs and underserved child populations including pharmacologic management and stainless steel crowns. Dentists with hands-on educational experiences in dental schools with CSHCN were less likely to consider such factors as level of disability and patient behavior as obstacles to care and were more likely to desire additional education in care of CSHCN.

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