Yarning about oral health: Perceptions of urban Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

Kaley Butten, Newell W. Johnson, Kerry K. Hall, Maree Toombs, Neil King, Kerry Ann F. O'Grady

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Abstract

Background: Many factors influence how a person experiences oral health and how such experiences may facilitate supportive oral health behaviours. Women in particular face different challenges due to their environment, responsibilities and physiological differences to men. Within Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are reported to have poorer oral health and are faced with additional barriers to supporting their oral health compared with non-Indigenous women. The objective of this paper is to report the experiences and perceptions of oral health from the perspective of urban, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Methods: The present data derive from a descriptive study that used yarning circles and face-to-face interviews with women who were mothers/carers of urban, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children. This was a qualitative study to investigate the impact of child oral health on families. Participants used the opportunity to share their own personal experiences of oral health as women, thus providing data for the present analyses. Information collected was transcribed and analysed thematically. Results: Twenty women shared their personal narratives on the topic of oral health which were reflective of different time points in their life: growing up, as an adult and as a mother/carer. Although women are trying to support their oral health across their life-course, they face a number of barriers, including a lack of information and the costs of accessing dental care. The teenage years and pregnancy were reported as important time periods for oral health support. Conclusions: To improve the oral health of Indigenous Australian women, policymakers must consider the barriers reported by women and critically review current oral health information and services. Current oral health services are financially out of reach for Indigenous Australian women and there is not sufficient or appropriate, oral information across the life-course.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Oral Health
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes

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