Factors affecting oral health care for asylum seekers and refugees in England: a qualitative study of key stakeholders' perspectives and experiences
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Aims To investigate factors influencing oral health behaviours and access to dental services for asylum seekers and refugees (ASRs).
Methods A qualitative research study using purposeful sampling was undertaken in South West England. Online semi-structured interviews with stakeholders working with or supporting ASRs were analysed through reflexive thematic analysis.
Results Twelve participants providing support to ASRs in various capacities participated. Two interviewees had lived experience of forced displacement and the UK asylum process. Key themes into what hinders ASRs' oral health care were: prioritising safety and survival; variations in cultural norms and practice; lack of knowledge about dental care; financial hardship and affordability of care; a gulf of understanding of what dental care would be like and experiences of it; and structures of dental services that leave vulnerable groups behind. Opportunities for improving oral health care were: accessible oral health education; partnership working and creating supportive environments; translation; providing culturally sensitive and person-centred care; and incorporating ASRs' views into service design.
Conclusions Several factors affect to what extent ASRs can and are willing to engage with oral health care. Co-developing accessible and relevant prevention programmes and ensuring equitable access to dental services for ASRs is important. Future research should explore ASRs' views and experiences of dental care and explore informed suggestions on how to optimise oral health promotion and provision of care.
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