Maternal Depression and Pediatric Patient Failure Rates

2020-06-18T01:02:09Z (GMT) by Amanda Pappas
The number of missed dental appointments is particularly high in “safety net clinics,” which are defined as a network of public hospital clinics, community health centers and other healthcare organizations that provide care to the uninsured or underinsured.1 Several reasons have been cited in the literature for missed pediatric dental visits such as parental forgetfulness, transportation issues, child illness, financial stress, parental work commitments and child school attendance.2 Mothers, or female caregivers are the focus of this study as they tend to manage health responsibilities for their children.3 The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between maternal, or female caregiver, depression and pediatric patient appointment failure rates in a university-based pediatric dental clinic.

One hundred and seventy five female caregivers of patients presenting for initial examinations at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry pediatric dental clinic consented to participate in this study. Subjects completed a validated depression survey (CES-D-10), in English or Spanish, in addition to 13 demographics questions using the software Qualtrics via a tablet. Patients’ charts were reviewed to determine if they returned to their next treatment appointment.

Of the 175 surveys completed, 36 children required treatment under general anesthesia, 13 had no subsequent appointment scheduled and 18 required no treatment, thus all were excluded from analysis. Of the remaining 108 participants, a positive correlation was seen between higher depression scores and pediatric patient appointment failures (rho = 0.474, p <0.01).

Because dentists may not feel that they are equipped to screen patients that may suffer from depression, mechanisms are needed to provide this for them. For example, basic mental health education could be incorporated in dental education institutions and reinforced in continuing education courses. Moreover, interprofessional collaboration is necessary so that dentists are aware of what treatment resources are available for patients coping with mental health issues, such as depression. Lastly, general public awareness and understanding regarding mental health would benefit said individuals, as they would be more likely to seek professional help.