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INTRODUCTION Oral health care access for vulnerable populations is an important public health issue in America, and is becoming a priority for discussion among policy makers, health care educational institutions, providers, and a segment of the public at large. Improving overall health outcomes requires a collaborative effort and innovative approaches that address education, delivery, and financing of oral health care. The purpose of this study was to investigate Massachusetts’ key informants’ knowledge and experience regarding development and implementation of medical/dental integration practices, including recognized barriers and possible solutions for integration enhancement.

METHODS This phenomenological, qualitative study used a criterion-based sampling method to choose key informants considered experts in medical/dental integration. An interview guide including demographic and exploratory questions was used to conduct in-depth interviews. Thematic analysis occurred via identification of patterns, and emergent themes.

RESULTS Data saturation occurred with eight (n=8) key informant interviews. The majority of participants argued the greatest barrier to integration is the needed cultural shift in health care practices. Informants believed an integration relationship must occur at the individual practice level to ease the process. Informants consistently reported that although integration is arduous, it can be accomplished using a structural approach.

DISCUSSION Much of the literature discusses established medical/dental integration programs. This study identified how key informants are currently developing or implementing medical/dental integration programs either in academia or through continuing education.

CONCLUSION The findings suggests that the implications for interprofessional practice are expanding and an important component to future healthcare.

Competing Interests

There are no conflicts of interest regarding this study.


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