Effect of referral for dental service on dental-service utilization by primary school children aged 8 to 11 years in Enugu, Nigeria
Keywords:Physician self-referral. Oral health. Utilization.
Aim: To determine how one dental education session and referral of study participants aged 8-11 years would affect utilization of oral-health care services. Methods: This descriptive prospective study recruited 1,406 pupils aged 8-11 years from randomly selected primary schools in Enugu metropolis. All pupils received one oral-health education and referral letters for treatment. Data were collected on the pupils’ socio-demographic profile, family structure, and history of oral-health care utilization in the 12 months preceding the study and within 12 months of receipt of referral letter. The effect of these factors as predictors of past and recent dental service utilization was determined using logistic regression. Results: Only 4.3% of the study participants had ever used oral-health services in the 12 months prior to the study. Within 12 months of issuing the referral letters, 9.0% of pupils used the oral-health services. Children from middle (AOR: 0.46; CI: 0.29-0.73; p=0.001) and low socioeconomic strata (AOR: 0.21; CI: 0.11-0.39; p<0.001) and those living with relatives/guardians (AOR: 0.08, CI: 0.01-0.56; p=0.01) were still less likely to have utilized oral-health services. Conclusions: Referral of children for oral-health care increased the number of children who utilized oral health care services.
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