Provision of Care to the Underserved Populations by National Health Service Corps Alumni Dentists

Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina, 725 Airport Road, CB#7590, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7590, USA.
Journal of Public Health Dentistry (Impact Factor: 1.64). 02/2002; 62(2):102-8. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2002.tb03429.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study examined factors associated with dentists continuing to provide care to the underserved populations beyond their National Health Service Corps (NHSC) obligation period.
Self-administered questionnaires were mailed in 1998 to 404 dentists who had completed their service obligation between 1980 and 1997. The outcome variable was dentist self-report of continuing to work with the underserved population past NHSC obligation.
Among 249 respondents (62% response rate), 46 percent of alumni dentists continued to work with an underserved population. Multivariate analyses found that being an African American (odds ratio [OR] = 3.2), higher final salary during the NHSC assignment (OR = 1.2), and higher altruistic motivation to work with the underserved populations prior to entering NHSC (OR = 1.1) were significantly associated with continued service to the underserved populations.
A small number of factors were associated with alumni NHSC dentists' decisions to continue to provide care for the underserved populations. Targeting African-American students and students interested in caring for the underserved may improve the long-term commitment of dentists to provide care for the underserved populations. Attention will also need to be given to increased salary as a potential intervention to increase the numbers of dentists who continue to serve the underserved populations.

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