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Center for Native Oral Health Research

Affiliated Studies

Project Export

Under the direction of Dr. Spero Manson, the Center for American Indian and Alaska Native Health Disparities implements an interdisciplinary, culturally grounded research program focused on understanding broad determinants of health including environmental, social, and behavioral factors.  The ultimate goal of the research program is to identify the factors influencing health disparities and to develop targeted interventions that can reduce these inequalities.  The oral health project is one of seven pilot research projects in this program funded by the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIH).

This project addresses the oral health of infants and toddlers through partnership with dental and pediatric well child clinics on a Southwestern American Indian Reservation  The oral health program uses a client-centered counseling technique called motivational interviewing to support positive oral health behaviors with mothers on behalf of their young children.  Collaboration between the medical and dental clinics improves delivery of services for infants and toddlers to put them on a path to have healthy teeth for life. 

Children’s Oral Health Partnership

Under the direction of Drs. Joan O’Connell and Judith Albino, the Children’s Oral Health Partnership aims to improve oral health and decrease Early Childhood Caries through a culturally competent, cost-effective intervention focused on education, prevention, and treatment of dental disease.  Funded by the Colorado Trust in 2006, with in-kind support and active participation from the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine faculty and students, the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health have worked with more than a dozen community organizations to plan and implement this program among Denver’s high-risk children.  Due to documented oral health needs among American Indian children and those from economically-disadvantaged families, the first participants in the program are three schools that provide the Indian Education Program and also have high percentages of families enrolled in the free and reduced-price school lunch program are the first participants.  All children from ECE through second grade are invited to participate. 

The intervention has three main components:  education of children, education of the parents/guardians, and oral health services that include screening and referrals for treatment, and the provision fluoride varnish.  The school-based intervention provides services at a location where children and families routinely go, thereby minimizing the intervention costs per child.  We are currently in the second year of a four-year intervention.  This year approximately 460 students and their families are receiving oral health education and 307 children (67% of all children) are enrolled in the oral health service component of the study.  A secondary goal of the program is to provide public health training to dental students who volunteer with the study. 

Sample Materials:

Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH)

Centers for American Indian Alaska Native Health have entered into a contract with the Montana Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council to conduct two pilot research projects, one pertaining to an Oral Health Study and the second a Diabetes Study, that will begin September 2009.

The goal of the Oral Health study is to develop and evaluate an oral health promotion program offered by trial members in a community-based setting (Head Start Center) for American Indian children from birth through the age of five. The program will include oral health and nutrition education for parents and caregivers, using a health behavior change approach called Motivational Interviewing (MI). Dental screenings and fluoride varnish also will be made available to the children following developmental appropriate recommendations.

The goal of the Diabetes Study is to use existing Indian Health Service (IHS) clinical and administrative data to examine diabetes-related complications, use of medical services and prescribed medications, and treatment costs among reservation-based American Indians whose community of residence is the Blackfeet Service Unit in Montana. We propose to extract data from the IHS Resource Patient Management System (RPMS) for the study. RPMS data include measures of demographic characteristics, health conditions, and use of hospital inpatient and outpatient services and prescribed medications. RPMS data will be supplemented with data from other sources, such as IHS financial reports for health facilities, to estimate treatment costs associated with diabetes.

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