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The relationship of primary care providers to dental practitioners in rural and remote Australia


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Barnett, T ORCID: 0000-0002-1376-6414, Hoang, H ORCID: 0000-0001-5116-9947, Stuart, JC ORCID: 0000-0003-2240-3188 and Crocombe, L ORCID: 0000-0002-3916-0058 2017 , 'The relationship of primary care providers to dental practitioners in rural and remote Australia' , Bmc Health Services Research, vol. 17 , pp. 1-13 , doi: 10.1186/s12913-017-2473-z.

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Background: Rural residents have poorer oral health and more limited access to dental services than their citycounterparts. In rural communities, health care professionals often work in an extended capacity due to the needsof the community and health workforce shortages in these areas. Improved links and greater collaboration betweenresident rural primary care and dental practitioners could help improve oral health service provision such thatinterventions are both timely, effective and lead to appropriate follow-up and referral. This study examinedthe impact oral health problems had on primary health care providers; how primary care networks could bemore effectively utilised to improve the provision of oral health services to rural communities; and identifiedstrategies that could be implemented to improve oral health.Methods: Case studies of 14 rural communities across three Australian states. Between 2013 and 2016, 105primary and 12 dental care providers were recruited and interviewed. Qualitative data were analysed in Nvivo10 using thematic analysis. Quantitative data were subject to descriptive analysis using SPSSv20.Results: Rural residents presented to primary care providers with a range of oral health problems from “everyday” to“10 per month”. Management by primary care providers commonly included short-term pain relief, antibiotics, andadvice that the patient see a dentist. The communication between non-dental primary care providers and visiting orregional dental practitioners was limited. Participants described a range of strategies that could contribute to betteroral health and oral health oral services in their communities.Conclusions: Rural oral health could be improved by building oral health capacity of non-dental care providers;investing in oral health promotion and prevention activities; introducing more flexible service delivery practices to meetthe dental needs of both public and private patients; and establishing more effective communication and referralpathways between rural primary and visiting/regional dental care providers.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Barnett, T and Hoang, H and Stuart, JC and Crocombe, L
Keywords: Oral health, Rural and remote areas, Australia, Dental practitioners, Primary care providers,
Journal or Publication Title: Bmc Health Services Research
Publisher: Biomed Central Ltd
ISSN: 1472-6963
DOI / ID Number: 10.1186/s12913-017-2473-z
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 The Author. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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