Medical–Dental Integration in a Rural Community Health Center: A Qualitative Program Evaluation

Academic Article


  • Background: A community health center (CHC) implemented a medical–dental integration (MDI) program where children were seen at a pediatric medical clinic or women, infants, and children program location by medical and dental providers in the same visit. Our study aims were to elicit the perspectives and experiences of providers and administrators involved in the MDI program to assess the acceptability, feasibility, and success of a CHC integration strategy in Eastern Washington. Methods: This is a qualitative study where we conducted semistructured interviews over the phone over a period of 2 months with 12 medical and dental providers and clinical administrators who were involved with the MDI program. Questions addressed perspectives on workflow, patient identification and engagement, leadership support, and barriers and facilitators of the initiative. Qualitative data were analyzed, and emergent themes were identified. Results: The emergent themes included (a) the MDI program is feasible and acceptable albeit with key considerations regarding the setting, including charting and service integration, progressive leadership and effective communication, and appropriate providers; (b) implementation included structural, systemic, and individual behavior barriers, (c) the program is seen as a benefit to the clinic and patients and a success to date as a way to increase access to quality care. Conclusions: Findings from this study helped identify facilitators, such as cultural relevancy and progressive office systems, as well as barriers, such as reimbursement, associated with integrating medical and dental care in a rural CHC setting, is acceptable by providers, and can inform future studies and implementation strategies for others wishing to integrate these services.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Pawloski C; Hilgert J; Senturia K; Davis S; Koday M; Cunha-Cruz J
  • Start Page

  • 416
  • End Page

  • 424
  • Volume

  • 23
  • Issue

  • 3