Caregiver's perceptions of oral health related quality of life among children with special needs in Johannesburg

Nqcobo, Cathrine Batesba
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This study aims to assess Oral Health-Related Quality of Life among children with special needs, from the caregiver’s perspective. The objectives of the study were: (i) To describe the demographic profile of the caregivers in terms of age, gender and socio-economic status,(ii) To assess the dental caries status of children with special needs,(iii) To establish the caregivers’ perceived Oral Health-Related Quality of Life of the children with special needs using the short-form Parent-Caregiver Perception Questionnaire, (iv) To assess the impact of the dental caries status on the families of children with special needs using the Family Impact Scale questionnaire. Results: The study consisted of 150 caregiver child pairs, the mean age of the caregivers was 39.52 years (SD 9.26) and mean age of children was 8.72 years (SD 6.07). There was a high prevalence of untreated caries regardless of the type of disability. The highest caries prevalence in both the primary and permanent dentition was found in the Epilepsy and the Autism groups (75%-83%) while the lowest was found among Down syndrome and Cerebral palsy groups (30%-47%).All the caregivers expressed impact on the Oral Health-Related Quality of Life.The mean Parent-Caregiver Perception Questionnaire score was 12.88 (SD 12.14) while the mean Family Impact score was 6.05 (SD 6.77). The highest Parent-Caregiver Perception score of 20.5 (SD 11.07) was found in the complex disability group followed by the Down syndrome group 15.87 (SD 13.87). The highest scores were found in the oral symptoms, functional limitation and emotional wellbeing domains which contributed more to the parent perception score. Conclusion: Caregivers of children with special needs in the current study experienced a negative impact on Oral Health-Related Quality of Life. Caries experience of the children with special needs was slightly lower than in the general population irrespective of disabilities and had no impact on the FIS and overall global rating-well-being.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Dentistry (Community Dentistry) Johannesburg, 2015