Accessibility to oral health care for people on social assistance: a survey of social service providers from Public Welfare Centres in Flanders

  • Prof. dr. Luc
    De Visschere

Volledig artikel: zie bijlage


Objectives People on social assistance consult less for oral health care, despite a higher treatment need. Although the Belgian healthcare system provides protective measures to reduce the financial barrier to care, no data is available on how the target group experiences access to oral health care. The goals of the present study are 1) to explore the characteristics of the Flemish Public Centres for Social Welfare (PCSW’s) concerning oral health care, 2) to explore possible barriers experienced by both people on social assistance and oral health care providers, and 3) to explore the accessibility of general and oral health care for people on social assistance.

Materials and Methods This cross-sectional study was performed by means of a validated questionnaire to be filled out by social service providers, working in a PCSW. All PCSW’s in Flanders were invited to participate in this survey.

Results Financial limitations and not prioritizing oral health are the main burdens to oral health care among people on social assistance. They experience greater financial barriers and poorer access to the dentist than the GP. For the dentist, financial concerns and administrative burdens are the main barriers to treat this subgroup. PCSW’s experience reluctance to treat this subgroup among local dentists.

Conclusions Additional efforts are needed to improve the accessibility of oral health care for people on social assistance. Improvements can be made at the organizational level, in informing and motivating the target group.

Clinical Relevance This is the first study on the accessibility of oral health care for people on social assistance in Belgium.


Keywords: dentistry, access to care, social assistance, poverty


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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Universiteit Gent
Thesis jaar
Prof. dr. Luc Marks