Cost is the primary barrier to dental care in the U.S., with 1 in 5 adults reporting financial barriers to receiving necessary care. Understanding how financial barriers are formed and maintained is critical to designing effective policy and community-based interventions to alleviate these barriers. Current health disparities research focuses on income and insurance coverage as the main factors that contribute to financial barriers. This group's co-directors propose that this existing model is overly simplistic since it fails to account for additional components of material hardship. Recent research by Dr. Conrad suggests that income, along with housing insecurity, bill-paying insecurity, perceived financial stress, emergency funds, and several other factors interact synergistically to produce financial uncertainty. The primary objective of this project is to develop a multidimensional model of financial uncertainty and oral health.
Group members will accomplish this by conducting a scoping review of the literature and using the results to design a model via collaborative conceptualization. Their goal is to use this new model as the foundation for hypothesis-driven research. While in residency, the group will prepare a grant proposal to submit to the National Institutes of Health. In addition to the conceptual model and grant proposal, they will also prepare a manuscript that summarizes findings from the scoping review.
The long-term goal of this project is to produce research that can be used by oral health stakeholders to propose more effective public health and community-based interventions to eliminate oral health disparities among socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.