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J Public Health Dent. 2002 Spring;62(2):102-8.

Provision of care to the underserved populations by National Health Service Corps alumni dentists.

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Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina, 725 Airport Road, CB#7590, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7590, USA.



This study examined factors associated with dentists continuing to provide care to the underserved populations beyond their National Health Service Corps (NHSC) obligation period.


Self-administered questionnaires were mailed in 1998 to 404 dentists who had completed their service obligation between 1980 and 1997. The outcome variable was dentist self-report of continuing to work with the underserved population past NHSC obligation.


Among 249 respondents (62% response rate), 46 percent of alumni dentists continued to work with an underserved population. Multivariate analyses found that being an African American (odds ratio [OR] = 3.2), higher final salary during the NHSC assignment (OR = 1.2), and higher altruistic motivation to work with the underserved populations prior to entering NHSC (OR = 1.1) were significantly associated with continued service to the underserved populations.


A small number of factors were associated with alumni NHSC dentists' decisions to continue to provide care for the underserved populations. Targeting African-American students and students interested in caring for the underserved may improve the long-term commitment of dentists to provide care for the underserved populations. Attention will also need to be given to increased salary as a potential intervention to increase the numbers of dentists who continue to serve the underserved populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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