UWA Dental School

(Reducing) Oral Health Inequities

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The overall goal of the (Reducing) Oral Health Inequities Research Group is to undertake mixed methods research to provide high quality evidence that can inform improvements to policies and practices that reduce oral health inequities. We focus on consumer and stakeholder engagement and capacity building. Our work centres around three interdependent streams of research that inform each other - i) quantitative approaches (linked data, epidemiology); ii) qualitative approaches (perceptions, contexts, barriers and enablers); and iii) dissemination and translation of findings including developing resources and policies that can assist in improving practices and outcomes. 

(Reducing) Oral Health Inequities

Program leader: Professor Linda Slack-Smith

Program members: Research A/Prof Angela Durey, Dr Martin O'Grady (Adjunct), Dr Helen Lette, Ms Emma Savage, Ms Sharika Couchy, Ms Jordanna Rebbeck. 

DMD students: Rachel Zhou, Henna Khan, Jessica Hunter, Alan Ratcliffe, Patricia Elder, Linh Truong, Yunyi Koh, Rabia Yosufi, Saime Serin, Shatha Saleh, Nur Natasha Mohamad Hisham, Hira Rind, Isaac Seguya, Russell Powell, Troy Ridgwell, Michael Shengheng Lai

Collaborators: Prof Barry Gibson (University of Sheffield), Professor Sarah Baker (University of Sheffield), Prof Dawn Bessarab (UWA), Associate Professor Dan McAullay (UWA, ECU), Dr Sarah Cherian (PMH), Professor Colleen Fisher (UWA), Dr Susan Lee (Women's Health and Family Services), Associate Professor Mary Ellen Macdonald (McGill), Ms Nola Naylor (South Metro Health), Dr Clair Scrine (TKI)

Research Program Objectives

The key objectives of the Oral Health Inequalities Research Group are to:

  • Undertake narrative, rapid and systematic reviews to provide understanding of existing evidence for our research questions
  • Use total-population and data linkage to understand oral health and dental services use and the complex factors associated with oral health and health service use, particularly in vulnerable groups
  • Identify and examine issues, perceptions, attitudes and practices of key stakeholders (clients, dental professionals, industry providers, etc.) regarding the oral health of disadvantaged Australians and to better understand the meaning of variables such as barriers and enablers in our analysis.
  • Work closely with key stakeholders to engage them in the research process from design through to translation of research findings into improving policy and practice

Research Program Summary

It is slowly being recognised that oral health requires a substantial shift from treating advanced dental disease toward a multidisciplinary approach to prevention with increasing recognition of the need to better understand the social determinants that influence oral health inequalities. Such understanding is imperative for the design of effective prevention programs. Research conducted by the team will aim to adopt and review:

  • Innovative research approaches
  • Knowledge generation or system capacity improvement
  • Knowledge translation into policy and practice
  • Research capacity building 
  • Collaboration and engagement of consumers and end-users in the research process

Current Research Projects 

  • Incorporating dental professionals into aged care facilities
  • Oral health of Cultural and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) residents in aged care settings
  • Perceptions and beliefs regarding oral health of Aboriginal children and adults in Western Australia
  • Perceptions and models of dental care in the remote Kimberley region
  • Reviewing the oral health of people with mental health illnesses from the perspectives of dental professionals, mental health professionals, families and adults diagnosed with mental health issues
  • Oral health resources in women's health

 

Professor Linda Slack-Smith was a Chief Investigator of the National Centre for Research Excellence in Primary Oral Health Care (CRE) that was formed through the collaboration of three Australian universities (Adelaide, Tasmania, and Western Australia). The CRE is funded with a grant of $2.5 million over 4 years as part of the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute through the Australian National University (ANU) financed by the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. For more information please see National Centre for Research Excellence in Primary Oral Health Care (CRE).