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Aust J Prim Health. 2016 Feb;22(6):569-575. doi: 10.1071/PY15163.

Geographic distribution of point-in-time access to subsidised dental services in Western Australia.

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International Research Collaborative - Oral Health and Equity, School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia.


Dental Health Services (DHS) is the largest public primary oral healthcare provider in WA. The objective of this study was to calculate probable distance patients are expected to travel to the nearest clinic, gauge utilisation rates and predict the direction of likely changes in future demand for subsidised dental care. Eligible population data was collected from the Department of Human Services and the Australian Bureau of Statistics websites and integrated with the waiting list and the recall list data provided by the DHS. In total, 65% of the eligible WA population are residing in the metropolitan area; however, only 19% of those are either on the waiting list or have already received subsidised care. In all, 35% of the total eligible WA population are residing in country areas. A total of 30% of the eligible country WA patients are located within a 100-km range of a Government Dental Clinic, with only 11% of those either on the waiting list or having already received subsidised dental care. Country WA residents are at a significant disadvantage by comparison to their metropolitan counterparts. Eligible WA country residents are up to 40% less likely to receive treatment when compared to the metropolitan residents.


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