The use of consent forms in a “call from class” model of dental care for Australian Indigenous children

The use of consent forms in a “call from class” model of dental care for Australian Indigenous children
Brief Report
N Stormon
Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 19 January 2022
Open Access
Issues addressed
Dental caries is one of the most prevalent non-communicable diseases in children. Indigenous children reported a disproportionately higher prevalence of dental disease compared to their age-matched counterparts. To improve access to dental care a community-controlled service provides culturally appropriate dental services on the site of an Indigenous primary and secondary school. The dental clinic utilises a “call from class” model of care. Consent forms seeking permission to undertake a dental examination without a parent/guardian present during school hours are sent home. When the forms are returned, the student is located in class and a dental examination is undertaken.
A retrospective audit of dental records from 2019 and 2020 were undertaken. The number of consent forms sent and returned were recorded.
In 2019, 87% (n= 220) of the school population were sent consent forms. Of the forms issued, 70% (n=154) were returned. Almost all students required further treatment (90%, n=137) and were sent a treatment consent form. Of the total student population, 67% (n=171) were not seen or had outstanding treatment from unreturned forms. Proportions of incomplete treatment and unseen students were similar in 2020 (64%, n=173). In this model barriers are lessened by providing a free dental service on the school site.
Consent is an ethical and legal necessity to undertake dental examination and treatment. Using physical forms were effective for gaining consent for most children. However, less than half of the school population’s dental treatment were completed. Future studies should be conducted to explore the acceptability of using consent forms by parents/guardians and different models to gain consent for children from complex social circumstances.

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