KDHRC has things to say. You can find our research in top journals,
leading conferences, and right here, in our Informing Public Health research briefs,
which summarize our research advances.
Primary tooth decay significantly predicts lifelong oral health issues and compounds systemic inequity experienced by children of color. Poor oral health can lead to low self-esteem, school absences, and financial strains for parents. Guardians’ low oral health literacy is one risk factor that predicts primary and permanent tooth decay and related negative outcomes among Black youth, defined as children and adolescents, in low-resource households. Findings indicate that the KDHRC Program Guardians Receiving Information through Navigators (GRIN) has the potential to prepare community health workers (CHWs) to conduct oral healthcare outreach, emphasize the importance of oral health, and encourage Black guardians to seek oral healthcare for their youth.
Since their introduction to the marketplace only a decade ago, electronic cigarettes (more commonly called vapes) have been rapidly adopted for use by youth, creating a public health epidemic. In the U.S., from 2017 to 2018, vaping by youth increased by 78 percent. Now, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students – roughly one in five high school students and one in twenty middle school students – have vaped in the past year.1 Vapes are the most commonly used tobacco delivery product among youth and show youth usage rates substantially higher than any other drugs of abuse.
Childhood tooth decay is a significant public health problem in the United States (U.S.) and one of the country’s greatest unmet health needs (Boyles, 2011). Not only can tooth decay produce lasting physical pain and emotional suffering for children afflicted with it, but it also has substantial societal ramifications, such as costing U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually, mostly because of emergency room care for preventable tooth pain (Pettinato, Webb, & Seale, 2000; The Pew Center on the States, 2012). And though all children are susceptible to tooth decay, it is disproportionately evident in specific demographic groups. Indeed, Latino children and children living in poverty have greater amounts of tooth decay, more severe tooth decay, and more untreated decay (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research [NIDCR], 2011).
Health nonprofits increasingly use promotores de salud (promotores) to connect low-income Latinos with health services, provide health education, and empower clients with positive coping skills (Vega, Rodriguez, & Gruskin, 2009). Because promotores typically come from the communities in which they serve, they are culturally competent peers who can help many Latinos overcome the language barriers and institutional distrust that limit their willingness to seek services (Elder, Ayala, Parra-Medina, & Talavera, 2009; Nemcek & Sabatier, 2003).
In recent years, local nonprofit community-based health providers who serve Latino populations have increasingly turned to promotores, or community lay health workers, to facilitate their service provision. Promotores work in a variety of capacities at nonprofits: as front-line service providers who supply basic services and as health educators who give valuable information on important health topics. The rationale is that promotores’ lay status as community members allows them to connect with Latinos in culturally competent and sensitive ways, thereby creating trustworthy relationships between nonprofit providers and Latinos. These relationships can help overcome Latinos’ mistrust of the mainstream medical system and reduce other barriers to care.