Barriers in Dental Care Delivery for Children with Special Needs in Chennai, India: A Mixed Method Research

Lakshmi Krishnan, Kiran Iyer, Parangimalai Diwakar Madan Kumar


Purpose: The study aimed to assess the barriers faced by children with disability, both qualitatively and quantitatively, from the perspectives of caregivers and dental practitioners.

Methods: A concurrent mixed method design was used. A sample of 195 dentists and 100 caregivers was selected through convenience sampling. A pre-validated questionnaire was used to assess the barriers faced by the children with disability in their care. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were conducted with caregivers. Descriptive statistics were computed using SPSS version 20 and thematic analysis of qualitative data was done using NVivo software.

Results: 195 dentists and 100 caregivers responded to the survey. Majority of practising dentists (83.7%) reported inadequate training in handling children with special needs, while caregivers (38%) reported fear of dentist among the children as major barriers experienced in utilising dental services.

Conclusion and Implications: This study helps to identify the barriers faced by children with special healthcare needs. The findings highlight the need for hands-on training to be incorporated into the dental curriculum. It also suggests that improvements be made in dental clinics to accommodate these children in comfort. Due to limitations of the study, it is suggested that there is a need for further longitudinal studies that involve other family members of children with disability.


Developmental disabilities; dental utilisation; barriers; children

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