Health Policy

Dental utilization by low-income mothers.

Kuthy, R.A.; Odom, J.G.; Salsberry, P.J.; Nickel, J.T.; Polivka, B.J.
1998 Winter

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This study examines the influence of predisposing, enabling, and need variables on whether low-income mothers sought dental care during the past year. This report is a substudy of mothers and children on their self-reported health status, utilization, access, and satisfaction with health care in general.

METHODS: A convenience sample of 502 mothers and youngest child younger than 6 years old was administered a face-to-face questionnaire in four Ohio counties. Information was collected at county human services offices and WIC clinics between November 1995 and July 1996. Using whether or not the mother sought dental care as the dependent variable, logistic regression models were created for the variables within the predisposing, enabling, and need characteristics separately and together.

RESULTS: Fewer than one-half of the mothers sought dental care during the past year. Variables associated with the predisposing characteristic explained little about who sought care. Those mothers who have Medicaid coverage are 2.7 times more likely to have a dental visit than those without insurance. Moreover, those mothers who perceive any dental need are several times less likely to have received dental care than those who have no perceived need.

CONCLUSIONS: Even among a somewhat homogeneous population of low-income women, source of payment for dental services and perceived need for dental care are discriminating variables in determining who seeks dental care.