Global oral health policies and recommendations for children with special health care needs and their applicability and effectiveness during the COVID -19 pandemic: a systematic review.

Global oral health policies and recommendations for children with special health care needs and their applicability and effectiveness during the COVID -19 pandemic: a systematic review.

Publication date: Mar 15, 2024

This systematic review aims to assess effectiveness of oral health policies, recommendations and guidelines in safeguarding oral health of children with special healthcare needs during COVID-19. This systematic review evaluated the adaptation of global oral health policies for children with special healthcare needs (SHCN) during the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide evidence-based insights to inform policymakers and healthcare providers amid the ongoing global health crisis. The study focused on assessing the effectiveness of these adaptations in ensuring equitable access to quality dental care for this vulnerable group. A PRISMA guided online search through LILIACS, PubMed, Scopus, COCHRANE and grey literature was conducted. The search strategy incorporated a combination of subject headings (MeSH terms) and free-text terms related to “oral health,” “dental health,” “policy,” “effectiveness,” “dental practice guidelines,” “oral health policies,” and “special care needs children. ” Eligibility criteria included oral health policies, recommendations and guidelines targeting individuals/children with special care needs. Both qualitative and quantitative studies published in English from 2008 to 2023 were included. Sixteen guidelines, recommendations and policies, from six authorities were identified. These documentations addressed six different areas mentioned broadly as comprehensive care, ethical considerations, preventive and therapeutic measures, equity, patient-centric treatment, and reducing disparities signaling a paradigm shift. International collaborations and standardization of guidelines indicated a unified approach. The review also emphasized on a commitment to continuous improvement through quality measurement, systematic referral management, and needs assessment. With the exception of two documents, the remaining guidelines did not address COVID-19 or provide specific adaptations for it. The lack of emphasis on individual condition was notable, as the guidelines generally took a more generalized approach toward individuals with special healthcare needs. In conclusion, this review assessed the impact of COVID-19 on oral healthcare for individuals with special needs. It underscores global and local efforts for equitable access, patient-centric care, and preventive measures. The lessons learned advocate for a resilient, inclusive healthcare framework capable of meeting diverse needs. CRD 42023452475.

Concepts Keywords
Dental Care
Healthcare Covid
Pandemic Dental
Policymakers Effectiveness
Sixteen Global
Guidelines
Healthcare
Individuals
Needs
Oral
Pandemic
Policies
Recommendations
Special
Systematic

Semantics

Type Source Name
disease MESH oral health
disease VO effectiveness
disease MESH COVID-19
disease IDO quality
disease VO Equity
disease VO LACK

Original Article

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