Fluoride Action Network

Missed opportunities for improving oral health in rural Victoria: The role of municipal public health planning in improving oral health

Source: Health Promotion Journal of Australia | August 1st, 2021 | By Virginia Dickson-Swift and Len Crocombe
Location: Australia


Issue addressed: People in rural areas have poorer oral health than their urban counterparts due to a range of factors. Local governments have a key role in addressing health issues that impact on local communities.

Methods: Publicly available Oral Health Profile (OHP) data and Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plans (MPHWPs) (2017-2021) were downloaded from Dental Health Services Victoria and local government websites for 48 Victorian LGAs containing predominately rural areas. OHP data was collated to provide an overview of the oral health status of the communities and a content analysis of the MPHWPs undertaken.

Results: Despite poor oral health in rural Victorian LGAs, oral health was not often in MPHWPs. Twenty of the MPHWPs had some mention of oral health but only four included specific actions or strategies that would be used to improve oral health. None of the plans contained any specific targets for action or details of evaluations that might be used to assess success.

Conclusions: Poor oral health in rural Victorian communities continues to be demonstrated through local oral health profiles and is due to modifiable risk factors and poor access to water fluoridation. Local governments have a key role to play in improving oral health through utilisation of OHP data in their MPHWPs. SO WHAT?: Oral health remains a low priority for local government action. This represents a missed opportunity for prioritising oral health prevention and promotion activities that improve oral health in rural Victoria.

Supplementary Material at hpja525-sup-0001-Supinfo.docx, Word document, 41.9 KB

This article has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process, which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record. Please cite this article as doi:10.1002/hpja.525

*Original abstract online at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hpja.525