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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An exploration of access to dental care for adults with developmental disability Sheikholeslami Salmasi, Mohammad Amin


Abstract Objectives: Dental services for children and adolescents with special health care needs, such as developmental disabilities, are reasonably accessible in tertiary care hospital dental departments and in the private offices of pediatric dentists. However, once these young people become adults, accessing dental care is often problematic. This qualitative study explored the experiences of adults with developmental disabilities (AWDD) accessing dental services in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia Methods: This research used a qualitative approach. AWDD service organizations and family support groups facilitated recruitment of participants. Time was devoted to engaging and building relationships with participants before beginning the research. The focus groups were guided by open-ended questions, audiotaped and then transcribed. Each focus group lasted, on average, forty minutes. Participants were either “self-advocates” (AWDD who speak or act on behalf of themselves or others on issues that affect people with disabilities) or parents of the more severely compromised AWDDs. Each transcript was coded; the codes were organized into themes and finally into domains. Results: Five focus groups with twenty participants were conducted; two groups were with AWDDs and three with parents. Seven domains relating to the experiences of AWDD self-advocate and their family members with dental care were identified. These domains were communication, trust, respect, financial issues, transitional services, waiting times and, finally, what makes for a “positive dental experience”. Conclusions: “Provider-based” domains of trust, respect and communication arose as essential to the quality of the dental experience for AWDDs and their parents. The domains of financial issues, wait times and transitional services were “system-based” barriers to access to dental care for theses AWDDs. Acknowledgement of the parent’s role as advocates and simple, but thoughtful, accommodations by the dental office positively enhanced the dental experience for AWDDs.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada