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Title: Mobile Dentistry and Chronic Absenteeism-A Dental Health Solution to Improving Education Quality and Student Performance Outcomes
Authors: Chou, Coco
Advisors: Edin, Kathryn
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: Introduction: Dental health problem is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases among children in the U.S. Not only does it affect children’s health, it also negatively impacts their quality of education and consequently performance outcomes. However, dental health is often times overlooked when compared to other health issues. Physical, geographical, financial, and social barriers of access have created a wide socioeconomic disparity in both dental health and education outcomes. One solution to this disparity is mobile dentistry, programs that bring preventive and restorative services to underserved population without additional cost or sometimes completely free. Previous studies have separately shown the detrimental effects of poor dental health on education outcomes, and the connections between mobile dentistry participation and oral disease reduction. However, most are qualitative, and few if any were specifically on the connection between mobile dentistry and absenteeism. Our study tackles this gap and analyzes the relationships between mobile dentistry programs participation and chronic absenteeism, as well as some other performance outcomes. The results are followed by some general program and policy implications. Methods: This quantitative study manually collects and compile data from the participating Michigan PA 161 programs, with a total of n=36 schools. Individual school’s student performance outcomes data are gather from the MI School online database. The study assesses the relationships between program participation (PA) and chronic absenteeism (CA), as well as two other dependent variables of attendance rate and standardized test proficiency rate. Panel data (time-series) regressions with one-way individual fixed effects model is the main regression model used. Other descriptive data such as demographics and economic statuses are also provided. Results: For every 100% increase in PA at a school, there is a 4.9% decrease in CA. The coefficients for the attendance rate regression and the standardized test proficiency rate regression are also negative, though at a much smaller scale. The effect of PA on CA is most visible in schools with 50-75% economic disadvantage (ED), and in schools with higher PA thresholds. Conclusion: Mobile dentistry programs should be more widely promoted in order to bring effective services to more underserved populations. To do so, state and federal governments should provide more assistance, whether in forms of structural oversight or funding, and become more involved in weaving together an organized system of mobile dentistry across the nation.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2020

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