Establishing maternal and child health data collection priorities for state and local oral health programs.
OBJECTIVE: This paper identifies specific data items for use by state and local agencies in a maternal and child oral health needs assessment model.
METHODS: A modified Delphi approach was used to develop consensus on items for inclusion in the data set and their relative importance. Initially, 31 data items were chosen from several national sources. All state dental directors, along with other selected administrators and advisory committee members for this process, were asked to categorize each of the data items as core (essential), important but optional, or of lesser importance. Short comments about each data item were accepted, as were additions to the list of data items. Two rounds of comments were held.
RESULTS: Eleven data items/types of information were selected as core items to be included in all needs assessments. All but one of these items were determined by the scores of the respondents. The advisory committee strongly recommended that at least one core item relate to the public's perception of oral health. Some differences in perceived importance of several items existed among the state dental directors, local dental directors, and the advisory committee. Twenty-one items were identified as being important, but optional, and seven were considered less than important and not included in the model data set.
CONCLUSIONS: A modified Delphi approach facilitated the development of core and optional data items for a model oral health needs assessment. This model has potential for a common reporting mechanism so that states and local dental programs can share data.