- Underserved. Immigrant populations are characterized as highly underserved for medical and dental care (Chaffin, 2003).
- Communication barriers. Language, cultural or situational differences may limit understanding of education messages (Ekman, 1990).
- Access to care. Immigrant populations may have lower income, lack insurance and be geographically isolated, which can decrease their access to oral health care. Immigration status may also influence their access to oral health care (Chaffin, 2003).
- Lack of awareness. Immigrant populations may have a lack of general knowledge about preventive oral health care (Hansen, 2003).
Strategies to address these considerations
- Enhance provider skills. Oral health providers must be culturally-sensitive when dealing with immigrant populations. This might require increased time with the patient in order to provide better explanations of oral health care.
- Provide education. Community-based educational interventions are needed to enhance health literacy and to promote behaviors that improve oral health. Interventions must consider culture, language, income and access.
- Increase access to care. Work with cultural centers, health care providers, churches and schools to provide opportunities for oral health care in immigrant populations.
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