Analysis of Oral Health Advocacy in the Peer-Reviewed Literature, 2013 to 2016
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Advocacy is the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. The recent peer-reviewed literature on advocacy for oral health and dental care is slim, disparate, and not reflective of the ever-expanding dynamism of this field.
Using Medline searches for journal articles in English with abstracts published between January 1, 2013 and March 15, 2016, only 33 qualifying articles were identified in 26 unique journals by authors in nine countries.
This paucity of articles may reflect oral health advocates’ belief that peer-reviewed journals are ineffective venues for their contributions. Given the very sizable literature on general, rather than oral, health advocacy, the paucity of oral health articles more likely reflects the lack of empirical studies analyzing oral health advocates’ experience and impact. Identified articles were assigned to one of six overlapping topical domains: (1) advocacy for governmental action, (2) training students as advocates, (3) advocacy by health professional and public health membership organizations, (4) promoting oral health for specific underserved populations, (5) advancing clinical dental practice, and (6) promoting dental research. Themes that cut across many articles are the close relationship between advocacy and policy and calls for research to substantiate a problem or proposed solution.
Overall, most articles relate directly or tangentially to addressing oral health disparities at the population level although oral health is frequently conflated with dental care, implying that resolution of disparities requires greater access to dental treatment rather than to preventative public health interventions.
KeywordsAdvocacy Call-to-action Disparity Dental research Dental education
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Burton L. Edelstein serves as the Senior Fellow in Public Policy and the Emeritus Chair of this organization.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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