A Qualitative Study Exploring the Barriers and Facilitators for Maintaining Oral Health and Using Dental Service in People with Severe Mental Illness: Perspectives from Service Users and Service Providers

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People with severe mental illness suffer from a high burden of oral diseases, which can negatively impact their physical and mental well-being. Despite the high burden, they are less likely to engage in oral health care including accessing dental services. We aimed to identify both the service users' and service providers' perspective on the barriers and facilitators for maintaining oral health and dental service use in people with severe mental illness. Qualitative exploration was undertaken using dyadic or one-to-one in-depth interviews with service users in the UK with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder. Service providers, including mental health and dental health professionals, and informal carers (people identified as family or friend who are not paid carers) were also interviewed. Thematic analysis of the data revealed three main cross-cutting themes at the personal, inter-personal and systems level: amelioration of the problem, using a tailored approach and provision of comprehensive support. The main barriers identified were impact of mental ill-health, lack of patient involvement and tailored approach, and accessibility and availability of dental services including lack of integration of services. The main facilitators identified were service providers' effective communication skills and further support through the involvement of carers. The findings suggest that the integration of dental and mental health services to provide tailored support for overall health and well-being, including the oral health of the patient, can better support people with severe mental illness regarding their oral health needs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Early online date5 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 by the authors


  • Dental Care
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders/psychology
  • Mental Health Services
  • Oral Health
  • Qualitative Research

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