340.4 Oral health and immigrant status among agricultural workers in South Florida: A qualitative study

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 3:30 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Claudia A SERNA , Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Florida International University, FL
Jesus SANCHEZ , Department of Sociobehavioral and Administrative Pharmacy, Nova Southeastern University, FL
Objectives: This qualitative study based on ethnographic interviews explores oral health knowledge and attitudes, the understanding of oral health related issues, susceptibility to dental diseases, the link to overall health and accessibility to dental care among a group of adult non US born Latino migrant workers in South Florida.

Methods: Data were collected through ethnographic interviews with a diverse Latino origin population that included Mexican, Ecuadorian, Venezuelan and Salvadoran agricultural-migrant workers in the Homestead/Florida City.  A convenience sample of 14 participants was selected to participate in the qualitative interviews.  Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed.  Themes were identified and then categorized for subsequent analysis.

Results: Seeking oral health care was driven by the manifestation of acute and/or painful oral problems, discomfort, and uncontrolled infections.  Even though in most cases severe oral health complications were encountered, study participants preferred to use traditional remedies (e.g., garlic, peppermint, etc) to avoid a visit to the dentist. The lack of dental care coverage is a direct contributor to their decision to not seek oral health care. This study also indicates lack of understanding the seriousness regarding the relationship between systemic diseases (i.e., diabetes, heart diseases) and oral health.

Conclusions: Oral health has been ranked as one of the major health problems faced by migrant and seasonal farm workers, as well as one of the unmet needs in farms workers health services. Oral health deficiencies are having a significant effect on their general health and the ability to carry out normal activities. The study suggested that the combination of lack of dental knowledge, lack of access to oral care and poor preventive oral health habits created a significant dilemma for this population.  In light of their migratory life-style, dental health education efforts should place more emphasis on self-care and self-monitoring among this population.