Collections > Master's Papers > Gillings School of Public Health > "They told me to take him somewhere else:" caregivers' experiences seeking emergency dental care for their children

Objectives: This mixed-methods study examined a) pediatric emergency dental care trends in two safety net clinics and b) emergency dental care-related experiences of young children's caregivers. Methods: Administrative data were used to describe and compare characteristics of emergency first-visits of children ages 0-6 in a community-based (CC) and a University-based (UC) safety net clinic from 2010-2014. In-person interviews were conducted with 10 caregivers of children ages 0-6 presenting for non-trauma-related emergency visits at the UC from January-August 2016. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded and analyzed inductively using Atlas.ti.7.5.9. Results: Significantly more emergency first-visits were attended at the UC (33%) versus the CC (5%), and the majority of these UC visits were referrals. Caregivers were dissatisfied with the experienced barriers of access to care and lack of child-centeredness, specifically the referral out of the dental home. Conclusions: A considerable proportion of children's first-visits at dental safety net clinics is emergency care-related. Children's caregivers voiced issues related to access to care and lack of child-centered dental care. Policy Implications: New models are warranted to optimize child-centered dental care, especially for emergency care.