Dental School

Oral Health Inequalities

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he overall goal of the Oral Health Inequalities Research Group is to undertake mixed methods research to provide high quality evidence which will assist in improving services, outcomes and reduce oral health inequalities. This work centres around the use of epidemiological approaches that are largely new or unexplored in dental research – it has become evident in this research that high quality epidemiological research requires understanding of existing evidence, understanding variables and contexts, and translating research.

Oral Health Inequalities

Program leader: Professor Linda Slack-Smith

Program members: Research A/Prof Angela Durey, Dr Claire Scrine, Dr Bola Adebayo, Ms Marlia Fatnowna

DMD students: DMD 4: Jessica Duskovic, Neepa Naik, Ol’ga Knurova, Michiel de Beer PROJ16: Oral health delivery to refugee children in Western Australia – The perspective of health providers and stakeholders. DMD4: Mei Ling Koh, Teresa Chang, Billy Kim PROJ25: Exploration of Media Articles Related to Oral Health in Australia, DMD3: Safaa Idris, Somto Aghanwa, John Shim, Ky Nguyen PROJ70 Developing resources for oral care for the home bound elderly. DMD3: Sadha Shiv Gupta, Praveen Perera, Rajinda Pathirana, Navangi Fernando PROJ71 Oral hygiene for people in residential aged care and Dental care for people in residential care with acquired brain injury. DMD3 Sina Sabeti, Puripast Sujirapinyokul, Vishnu Selvaraj, Claire Waldock PROJ78 Qualitative investigation of adult male refugee experience in dental care.

Collaborators: Adj Prof Nicky Kilpatrick (UWA, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), Prof David Brennan (UAdel), A/Prof Len Crocombe (UTas), Dr Martin O’Grady (UWA), Prof Sonj Hall (Prof Health Policy and Economics QUT), Prof Kate Tilling (University of Bristol), Prof Barry Gibson (University of Sheffield), Professor Sarah Baker (University of Sheffield), Prof Dawn Bessarab (UWA), Dr Dan McAullay (UWA, ECU).

Research Program Objectives

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

  • Undertake narrative and systematic reviews to provide understanding of existing evidence for our research questions
  • Use total-population and data linkage to assist understanding of oral health and dental services use and understanding complex factors associated with oral health and health service use, particularly in vulnerable groups
  • Explore in-depth the 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 meaning of variables in our analyses
  • Work closely with key stakeholders to engage them in the research process from design to translation of research findings into improved 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

 

Professor Linda Slack-Smith is 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).