The oral health therapist is today part of the dental team identified to have specific skills in early diagnosis, early treatment with an emphasis on prevention and timely referrals. Oral health therapists are named dental practitioners when they gain entry to practice. The current registering body which regulates the oral health therapy profession demands that therapists promote and improve health of individuals and the community by understanding and applying principles of primary health care, health promotion and disease prevention. Whilst there is significant interest in the scope of practice and levels of competence in clinical tasks, very little interest has been paid to competency and capability in health promotion. In actual fact the findings in this thesis show that for some therapists, this is not considered as their role, neither is it supported by all management in their public health settings. Skills in detection, prevention and protection from disease form an essential function in the public health sector, but the significance of this role within the public oral health sector has not received noticeable consideration, despite a long history of identifying this was an essential part of dental car. The capacity for the oral health therapy profession to improve health outcome at an individual and wider community level by how they go about implementing their approaches to oral health promotion, is central to this thesis. In this research, a comprehensive literature review on health promotion, indigenous health promotion and oral health promotion is presented. Information about current practices in health promotion was sourced from participants practising in three rural and regional areas of New South Wales, Northland and Mid Region New Zealand, as well as those attending an international oral health therapy conference workshop. To analyse the data, a pure phenomenology approach was utilised in the questionnaire and conference proceedings question design, and hermeneutic phenomenology utilised in both data interpretation as well as questionnaire and conference proceedings question design.The conclusions and recommendations in this thesis can be used to guide practice to better utilise the health promotion role of the oral health therapist and to inform curriculum development on strengthening capacity building. A report presented to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health & Ageing 2013, used information from this thesis which highlighted the need to significantly develop the existing role of the oral health therapist, expanding the preventive role and making it accessible to a wider population.This research has resulted in identification of a range of areas for future research, including the exploration of individual approaches to improve health in dental settings, how ''entry to practice'' oral heath therapists can utilise levels of health promotion competencies gained in their undergraduate degree courses, in an understaffed public oral health system.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||01 Aug 2014|
|Place of Publication||Australia|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|