Facing oral health disparities in Hawaii

March 12, 2004

Honolulu, Hawaii...While oral health disparities exist in many ethnic groups in Hawaii, the challenge of developing research and intervention programs is hampered by the lack of a dental school and adequate state resources.

David Easa and co-workers at the University of Hawaii have developed a collaboration model to establish a mentoring relationship with a research-intensive School of Dentistry to develop competence in dental research, conduct pilot studies, and write a grant application, with the overall goal of reducing oral health disparities in Hawaii.

Collaborative interactions with the University of Hawaii School of Medicine (UH) and the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry (UNC, Chapel Hill) include: bi-monthly teleconferences, on-site planning and mentoring sessions, yearly conferences in Hawaii open to the community utilizing UNC faculty, and on-site skills training sessions (calibration of "research dental hygienists"). The community has also been asked to participate in determining priorities for research through focus group interactions.

Both universities have been awarded NIDCR Planning Grants to fund activities to support the combined intellectual and physical resources of multiple private, public, and community organizations to achieve the goal of improving the oral health status of the people of Hawaii. As a result of initial planning, two related grants have been submitted (one approved, one pending) to fund pilot studies on the oral health status of mothers and their babies in a rural community (Waimanalo Health Center). These studies include both UH and UNC investigators.
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This is a summary of a presentation entitled "Oral Health Disparities Research without a Dental School: Hawaiian Strategies", to be presented by David Easa and colleagues (University of Hawaii, Honolulu) at 10:15 a.m. on Friday, March 12, in Exhibit Hall 1-2 of the Hawaii Convention Center, during the 82nd General Session of the International Association for Dental Research.

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