Medical health care professionals' assessments of oral health needs in children with disabilities: a qualitative study

Eur J Oral Sci. 2005 Oct;113(5):363-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.2005.00238.x.


Good collaboration between medical and dental care is essential to provide not only good oral health care, but also more holistic care for children with disabilities. The aim was to explore and describe medical health care professionals' assessments and considerations of orofacial problems and treatment needs in children with disabilities and in their families. In-depth interviews focusing on orofacial function were carried out with 17 medical health care employees. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed in open and focused (selective) coding processes according to grounded theory. A core category was identified and named focusing on basic needs, showing that oral health care assessment was not on the agenda of medical health care professionals, but was instead viewed as a responsibility of parents or dentists. This study shows that oral health issues are not fully integrated in the medical care of children with disabilities. The omission of oral health issues from the medical agenda implies a risk of oral health problems in children with disabilities. To put the oral cavity and oral health on the medical agenda, dentists need to influence the undergraduate training of medical professionals and to initiate co-operation with the medical care system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Child Health Services
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated
  • Dental Care for Children
  • Dental Care for Disabled
  • Dentists
  • Disabled Children*
  • Education, Medical
  • Female
  • Health Personnel*
  • Health Resources
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Oral Health*
  • Parents
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Resource Allocation