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A rapid review of barriers to oral healthcare for vulnerable people


Introduction People from vulnerable groups have higher levels of untreated dental disease compared to the general population, yet often experience barriers to accessing care. Difficulties accessing oral healthcare services have been suggested as one of the pathways that contribute to oral health inequalities.

Aim To conduct a rapid review of current literature related to barriers to oral healthcare for people from vulnerable groups.

Methods Electronic searching u sing MEDLINE via Ovid, covering articles from 2007 to 2017, and limited to the English language. Publication types included primary and secondary evidence from peer-reviewed journals and reports.

Results From a total of 536 records, 308 full-text articles were included in the final review. Barriers were summarised at the individual, organisational and policy levels. Common barriers across all vulnerable groups included lack of affordability, difficulties accessing care, lack of availability of appropriate care, and lack of public funding for specialised services. In addition, specific barriers were identified for certain groups. Potential solutions included the provision of training and information to patients and carers about oral health and accessing dental services, training dental professionals in caring for vulnerable groups, and better use of skill mix and guidance to ensure publicly-funded dental services are commissioned to meet the needs of vulnerable groups.

Conclusion This rapid review identified barriers to dental care for vulnerable groups at individual, organisational and policy levels to inform policymakers and commissioners.

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Correspondence to Sarab El-Yousfi.

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El-Yousfi, S., Jones, K., White, S. et al. A rapid review of barriers to oral healthcare for vulnerable people. Br Dent J 227, 143–151 (2019).

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