Evaluation of the Specialist Certificate in Health Promotion (Oral Health)

12 Dec 2008

Dental Health Foundation Launches Report on the Evaluation of the Specialist Certificate in Health Promotion (Oral Health)

The first Evaluation of the Specialist Certificate in Health Promotion (Oral Health) was launched today by the Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, Mr Pat the Cope Gallagher, TD. The Dental Health Foundation’s report provides key insights into changing trends within the area of oral health promotion and makes recommendations to expand and enhance the impact of the course to further benefit patients. The report published today is based on a survey of 120 graduates since the course was established in 1999. It highlights that oral health should no longer be approached from a purely dental perspective but that a patient’s lifestyle, culture and socio economic background all must be factored when treating patients.

According to Deirdre Sadlier, Executive Director, Dental Health Foundation it is well established that the mouth reflects general health and well being. Poor oral health can have a profound effect on a childs, adults and an individual with special needs general health and their quality of life.

“This course provides enhanced approaches to treating oral health issues for all individuals. The recently published National Survey of Oral Health of Irish Adults 2000 - 2002 reveals that:

  • There were considerable improvements in the level of oral health amongst adults. These improvements reflect the considerable investment in the provision of oral health services for adults during this period.
  • Adults with systemic disease had higher levels of edentulousness and fewer teeth than those without systemic disease
  • Age and gender had a statistically significant impact on number of teeth present for all age groups; older adults had fewer teeth, and women had fewer teeth than men.
  • Ownership of a medical card was statistically significantly associated with fewer teeth among 35-40 year-olds and 65+ year-olds.

The current cohort of older Irish people have low expectations in relation to their oral health, and have no childhood experience of preventative dentistry; most attend the dentist only when they require treatment. Despite clinical evidence to the contrary, the most common reason older people give for dental non-attendance is that they have “no need” of dental treatment. In addition, many older Irish people appear to lack understanding of the links between oral health, physical health and quality of life”said Ms Sadlier

Results of the Dental Health Foundation’s Commissioned Evaluation of the Specialist Certificate in Health Promotion (Oral Health) report indicate a clear perception among respondents that their oral health promotion practices have changed towards a more holistic, lifestyle-changing and client-empowering approach as a result of the course. In doing so respondents have also identified improvements in clients’ knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and self-efficacy as a result of changes in health promotion practices.

Speaking at the launch of the report the Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, Department of Health and Children, Mr. Pat the Cope Gallagher T.D. said, “I welcome the findings that those who have successfully completed the course have noticed improvements in their clients’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.”

The report also reveals that resources, time and support from colleagues remain the main determining factors in applying health promotion methods and activities learnt from the course. A lack of these determinants in some workplaces and settings has resulted in an exclusive practice emphasis being placed on the treatment of dental caries and periodontal disease.

Ms Sadlier also pointed out, “Overall, the comments from graduates have been positive and encouraging in terms of the effect the course has had their knowledge of oral health promotion and their professional practices. A particularly welcome development is that the social and environmental determinants of health are now increasingly being considered when assessing clients’ oral health. This broader understanding of oral health and its determinants has enabled graduates to adopt more encouraging and supportive approaches when dealing with clients and their families.”

Results show that the course has predominately been taken up by women in the 35-54 age group, the majority of whom are Dental Nurses. ‘Public Dental Practices’ and ‘Schools/Education’ are identified as the main areas where respondents take part in oral health promotion, with children being the most popular population group in receipt of these services. The survey also reveals that 19% of respondents have subsequently been promoted since qualification.