Assessing the Oral Health Needs of Public Housing Residents
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Objectives: “Tooth Smart Healthy Start” is a randomized clinical trial which aims to reduce the incidence of early childhood caries (ECC) in Boston public housing residents as part of the NIH funded Northeast Center for Research to Evaluate and Eliminate Dental Disparities. The purpose of this project was to assess public housing stakeholders' perception of the oral health needs of public housing residents and their interest in replicating “Tooth Smart Healthy Start” in other public housing sites across the nation. Methods: The target population was the 180 attendees of the 2010 meeting of the Health Care for Residents of Public Housing National Conference. A ten question survey which assessed conference attendees' beliefs about oral health and its importance to public housing residents was distributed. Data was analyzed using SAS 9.1. Descriptive statistics were calculated for each variable and results were stratified by participants' roles. Results: Thirty percent of conference attendees completed the survey. The participants consisted of residents, agency representatives, and housing authority personnel. When asked to rank health issues facing public housing residents, oral health was rated as most important (42%) or top three (16%) by residents. The agency representatives and housing authority personnel rated oral health among the top three (33% and 58% respectively) and top five (36% and 25% respectively). When participants ranked the three greatest resident health needs out of eight choices, oral health was the most common response. Majority of the participants expressed interest in replicating the “Tooth Smart Healthy Start” program at their sites. Conclusion: All stakeholder groups identified oral health as one of the greatest health needs of residents in public housing. Furthermore, if shown to reduce ECC, there is significant interest in implementing the program amongst key public housing stakeholders across the nation.
- Science Day 2011