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Oral health policy: What does it do for rural and remote communities?


Bell, EJ and Crocombe, LA, Oral health policy: What does it do for rural and remote communities?, Conference Handbook: Rural and remote practice, 20-23 September, Launceston, pp. 1-50. (2012) [Conference Extract]

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Aim: Policy shapes practice because it influences how system decision-makers understand the problem and the solutions, and thus practical decisions about, for example, what should be funded, how. Oral health policy is a much neglected area of research enquiry with little by way of systematic studies offering international lesson sharing for Australian policy-makers. What oral health policy models and solutions do these different countries offer? How do the oral health policy documents of different countries address the needs of disadvantaged groups in rural and remote communities? This study was specifically developed to give leading Australian rural oral health practitioners evidence to participate in policy reform processes.

Method: This presentation of a 2012 international study investigates and maps oral health policy (describing what it says as much as what it does not say). It uses a discourse analysis of all available oral health policy documents in English from developed nations. The discourse analysis draws on an established approach informed by the language-based techniques of Fairclough, Bourdieu, and Foucault. It uses a systematic iterative approach involving multiple readings of policy texts by the research team which includes a policy researcher and rural oral health practitioner.

Results: The study identifies how, where and possibly why oral health policy differently excludes disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and/or groups with unequal health access in rural and remote communities: Aboriginal people, farmers, older people, children, people with disabilities.

Conclusions: Our work is most useful to rural and remote oral health practitioners who want to shape policy more effectively with the kind of evidence known to be wanted by policy-makers ie evidence about what policy-makers in other countries are doing. Critical discourse analysis of key comparable policy documents can identify major issues for the rural and remote oral health reform agenda such as possible systemic country-level barriers and facilitators to that agenda. It can also identify particular gaps in policy in one nation such as Australia not found in another nation with more developed policy approaches. We found policy innovations, strategies and models internationally that should be shared here in Australia. We also found that there are substantial differences between countries in how even the policy problems in oral health for disadvantaged rural and remote groups are understood.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Policy and administration
Research Field:Health policy
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Health policy evaluation
UTAS Author:Bell, EJ (Associate Professor Erica Bell)
UTAS Author:Crocombe, LA (Associate Professor Leonard Crocombe)
ID Code:81884
Year Published:2012
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2013-01-10
Last Modified:2014-04-23
Downloads:6 View Download Statistics

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