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Strategies to improve oral health behaviours and dental access for people experiencing homelessness: a qualitative study


Objectives The present study aimed to identify strategies to improve oral health behaviours as well as access to and provision of dental care for people experiencing homelessness.

Method We conducted focus groups with people living in a residential homeless centre and semi-structured interviews with other stakeholders working with or supporting people experiencing homelessness. Following an inductive approach, thematic analysis was used to synthesise the findings on NVivo software.

Results Participants included 11 British males experiencing homelessness and 12 other stakeholders from various professional backgrounds. Themes identified included: awareness and empowerment; supportive environment and dental health system; flexible and holistic care; outreach and community engagement; collaboration with other health and social services; and effective communication.

Conclusions Efforts to improve oral health among people experiencing homelessness via improved oral health habits and engagement with services need to be directed at both the recipients of care and the healthcare teams. Well-powered empirical studies are needed to evaluate whether the strategies identified can improve engagement and care provision for this population.

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We would like to thank all our participants for their contributions, and the Oral and Dental Research Trust (GSK Research Award) for funding this study.

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Correspondence to Martha Paisi.

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Paisi, M., Witton, R., Withers, L. et al. Strategies to improve oral health behaviours and dental access for people experiencing homelessness: a qualitative study. Br Dent J (2020).

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