The Native Dental Therapy Initiative works to increase oral health care access and improve oral health outcomes in tribal communities.
The initiative recruits and trains dental health aide therapists to serve their communities by providing culturally relevant routine and preventive care. Its mission is to connect tribal communities with innovative approaches to address American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) oral health disparities; develop efficient, high-quality, modern dental teams; and provide opportunities for AI/AN people to become oral health providers.
According to the Indian Health Service 2014 Oral Health Survey, among AI/AN populations, most children have tooth decay, periodontal disease and missing teeth are significant problems for adults, and there is limited access to preventive and restorative dental care.
The Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board contracted with JBA to provide evaluation services for the Native Dental Therapy Initiative, which included designing a feasibility study for establishing a 2-year dental health aide therapist training program through Skagit Valley College and the Swinomish Indian Tribe. The study was informed by input from the board, college, and tribe, as well as from an advisory committee convened by the board. Tasks included—
- Reviewing existing feasibility study plans and developing an expanded study to include additional data sources and methods for new data collection
- Developing an instrument scoring guide
- Gathering and analyzing data for the feasibility study
- Compiling feasibility study findings into a final report and presentation in partnership with the Native Dental Therapy Initiative
- Presenting findings to the advisory committee
Erin Geary, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Senior Research Associate
Erin Geary has 15 years of experience in program evaluation, project management, and technical assistance. His skills include designing and...