NNLM Region 5 - Outreach & Engagement Award - Y2

Dental and oral health-care outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities present a stark divide between populations able to access regular dental care, and communities struggling to receive basic and sometimes lifesaving treatment. The public health challenge of racism will be explored within the context of dental care and through the space of public libraries and the participation of ethnic and local media as influential community members. This project — stemming from a larger prospective research effort currently under NIH review (R21 DE032161-01) — pilots an innovative, replicable community-engagement model that disrupts ineffective traditional systems of care and seeks to understand the experiences of marginalized communities in the safe space of public libraries, one of the few remaining places that provide free and accessible entry for all individuals. The project aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of utilizing public libraries as alternative, neutral spaces for underserved racial and ethnic minority prospective patients: (1) to acquire new information about existing local dental care services, (2) to navigate and gain access to these services, and (3) to share their dental health experiences. Dental health fairs at local public libraries located in medically underrepresented areas will bring together prospective patients, librarians, and university students through intraprofessional collaboration. The latter works to create stronger trust and understanding between these groups to further alleviate health disparities through open communication channels connected to the underserved communities they aim to serve. Prospective patients will receive public health materials (e.g., local and national data about dental health disparities, how to receive and pay for dental care, lists of local dental-care providers) developed by pre-health/dental students. Professional media organizations, working with journalism students, will produce public service content about both the fairs and dental and oral health care. The project also recruits prospective patients for focus groups to gather personal narratives about dental health-care experiences. These narratives and the resulting public service journalism will be used in the larger project to pilot narrative dentistry and reflective practice workshops in dental school programs, leading to the creation of narrative dentistry modules to be incorporated into dental health-care training curriculum.


Project Lead: Laura Moorhead


Age Group: Adults (19-64 yrs.)
Geographic Type: Medically Underserved Areas/Populations
Race & Ethnicity: Asians/Asian Americans, Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latin Americans
Roles of Participants Project is Intended to Serve: General Public

Award Details

Funding Source: Region 5
Project Category: Outreach
Period of Performance: Aug 17, 2022 - Apr 30, 2023
Project Status: Awarded

Project Funding