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Open Access Parents' Experiences with a School-based Dental Sealant Project in Central Appalachia: A Qualitative Study

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.

Objective: In this study, I describe parents' experiences with a rural school-based dental sealant project (SBSP), a Healthy People 2020 objective for optimizing population-level protection against dental decay and reducing oral health disparities. Methods: I conducted parent interviews (N = 16) and coded them with NVivo 10, using deductive and inductive codes, from which I identified themes. Results: Parents enrolled children in the SBSP based on their confidence in local public institutions and the project's convenience and accessibility. Parents did not understand the prevention orientation of the project, what services were offered or delivered, service limitations, or next steps, in particular their need to complete referrals to dentists. Parents' recommendations for program improvement included strengthening communications and reviving a defunct dental public health mobile unit that had previously treated children's existing dental problems. Conclusions: SBSPs should proactively identify and address family and contextual factors when planning and implementing projects. SBSPs should also strengthen case management capacity, collaborate with schools to bolster communications and message clarification, and be relieved of administrative and duplicate travel burdens that impede team members' capacity to fulfill technical and case management-oriented duties, namely support the transition and maintenance of children into dental homes.

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Keywords: APPALACHIAN HEALTH; DENTAL HYGIENISTS; DENTAL SEALANTS; ORAL HEALTH DISPARITIES; PARENTS; SCHOOL HEALTH

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2020

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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