Date of Conferral





Health Services


Suzanne Richins


When adolescents forgo oral health treatment, factors that hinder them from obtaining these services put them at risk of detrimental consequences in their oral and overall health. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to identify the various barriers that adolescents encounter causing them to defer oral treatment. Through this study, public health officials, school health care providers, the state, and parents could be made aware of these factors and work together to implement programs and supplemental aid to help adolescents become more knowledgeable of the importance of oral care and encourage them to desire and seek treatment. The oral health and behavioral conceptual models provided foundations for the development of the research questions, and they highlighted the selection of risk factors on the deferment process. Twenty adolescents who had oral health treatment/services in the past 12 months participated in the study. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed thematically. The results of this study show that oral health beliefs, as well as personal, behavioral, and environmental factors, shaped adolescents' decision to forgo oral health treatment. Financial barriers, dental fear, and transportation obstructed their capacity to seek care for themselves. The positive social change implications of this study include increasing the proportion of adolescents receiving oral health treatment yearly through the development of targeted interventions (such as school programs) that are designed to increase the adolescents' access to and use of dental care services. Such efforts would support the strategies implemented to achieve Healthy People 2020 objectives.