To examine past-year dental visits among underserved, Hispanic farm-worker families using the Andersen Behavioral Model of Health Services Utilization, which posits that predisposing, enabling, and need factors influence care-seeking behavior.
Oral health survey and clinical data were collected in 2006-2007 from families in Mendota, California (Fresno County) as part of a larger, population-based study. Generalized estimating equation logit regression assessed effects of factors on having a dental visit among adults (N = 326). Predisposing variables included sociodemographic characteristics, days worked in agriculture, self-rated health status, and dental beliefs. Enabling factors included resources to obtain services (dental insurance, income, acculturation level, regular dental care source). Need measures included perceived need for care and reported symptoms, along with clinically determined untreated caries and bleeding on probing.
Only 34% of adults had a past-year dental visit, despite 44% reporting a regular dental care source. Most (66%) lacked dental insurance, and nearly half (46%) had untreated caries. Most (86%) perceived having current needs, and on average, reported a mean of 4.2 dental symptoms (of 12 queried). Regression analyses indicated those with more symptoms were less likely to have a past-year dental visit. Those who would ask a dentist for advice and had a regular dental care source were more likely to have a past-year dental visit.
The final model included predisposing, enabling, and need factors. Despite low utilization and prevalent symptoms, having a regular source of care helps break this pattern and should be facilitated.