Life course experiences and lay diagnosis explain low-income parents' child dental decisions: a qualitative study.

Abstract : OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to better understand low-income parents' child dental care decisions through a life course approach that captured parents' experiences within the social context of poverty. METHODS: We conducted 43 qualitative life history interviews with 10 parents, who were long-term social assistance recipients living in Montreal, Canada. Thematic analysis involved interview debriefing, transcript coding, theme identification and data interpretation. RESULTS: Our interviews identified two emergent themes: lay diagnosis and parental oral health management. Parents described a process of 'lay diagnosis' that consisted of examining their children's teeth and interpreting their children's oral signs and symptoms based on their observations. These lay diagnoses were also shaped by their own dental crises, care experiences and oral health knowledge gained across a life course of poverty and dental disadvantage. Parents' management strategies included monitoring and managing their children's oral health themselves or by seeking professional recourse. Parents' management strategies were influenced both by their lay diagnoses and their perceived ability to manage their children's oral health. Parents felt responsible for their children's dental care, empowered to manage their oral health and sometimes forgo dental visits for their children because of their own self-management life history. CONCLUSION: This original approach revealed insights that help to understand why low-income parents may underutilize free dental services. Further research should consider how dental programs can nurture parental empowerment and capitalize on parents' perceived ability to diagnose and manage their children's oral health.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - 9:34:49 PM
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Vanessa Muirhead, Alissa Levine, Belinda Nicolau, Anne Landry, Christophe Bedos. Life course experiences and lay diagnosis explain low-income parents' child dental decisions: a qualitative study.. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, Wiley, 2012, 41 (1), pp.13-21. ⟨10.1111/j.1600-0528.2012.00741.x⟩. ⟨pasteur-00817601⟩

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