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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Factors influencing the oral health practices of Chinese immigrant parents for their young children (ages 0-6) in Vancouver and Richmond, BC : parents’ and service providers’ perspectives Gao, Hui Juan


Background: Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is a prevalent chronic condition affecting the health of young children (ages 0-6) worldwide, despite being mostly preventable through the adoption of effective oral health care practices. In both Canada and the United States, immigrant children suffer disproportionately from dental caries as compared to non-immigrant children. Limited research has examined the factors influencing oral health and care of young children from immigrant families in Canada. Objective: This qualitative exploratory study was carried out to examine the multi-level factors influencing the oral health care of young children (ages 0-6) from recent Chinese immigrant families residing in the cities of Vancouver and Richmond, British Columbia. Method: Working within a social constructivist paradigm, this study included Chinese immigrant parents (n=15), dental professionals (n=4) and community agency members (n=3) recruited from six different community sites using purposeful sampling. Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted until data saturation was reached. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed thematically to develop themes and sub-themes to summarize the findings. Results: Parents generally devoted much effort into establishing and modifying regular oral health care for their children and have improved their knowledge and understandings about oral health following immigration to Canada. Support was provided to parents in both oral health home care and professional dental care from family members, social networks, communities and professional dental care teams. Despite the support received, parents continued to experience major challenges in the areas of lacking translated and consistent oral health care information, lack of/insufficient dental payment assistance programs, and significant language and communication barriers. Conclusion: Given the ongoing challenges experienced by Chinese immigrant families, collaborative effort is needed from all levels of the government, residential and cultural communities and health care organizations to deliver consistent and practical oral health care information using various media platforms targeting immigrant communities, improve dental coverage for lower-to-middle income families, and mobilize resources to provide necessary translation and interpretation services to new immigrant families.

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