Date of Conferral





Public Health


Dr. Jeanne Connors


Dental caries is one of the biggest issues of concern for healthcare providers in Durham, North Carolina due to the high prevalence of dental caries in African Americans. Many researchers have identified socio-economic, low income, poor education, psychological behavior, awareness, allied diseases, environment, unhealthy diet, obesity, type II diabetes, and inadequate health facilities as the possible reasons for its high prevalence, yet literature lacks information regarding how African Americans perceive the problem of oral health. Knowledge of the perceived factors may help to identify the actual cause of dental caries through the eyes of African Americans. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the perceptions of barriers to access to dental care among African Americans in Durham North Carolina. The target population was the parents of the African American children aged between 6 and 14 years who either have suffered from dental caries or whose children are thus afflicted are eligible to participate in the study. A total of 10 participants were asked to respond to interview questions based on their experiences. The responses were recorded, transcribed and analyzed using the Nvivo software to identify different themes. The study results showed existing barriers such as the available resources and access to the services, including income level, the type of insurance, and coverage. That limit African Americans from accessing oral health care both for themselves and their children. These factors expose them to the danger of increased oral cavities that have adverse effects on their physical, emotional and psychological health. Evidence from this study provides a better understanding of the perceived barriers to oral health for better targeting by health officials to improve people's health and help people have greater control over their lives.