BACKGROUND: The Malaysian School Dental Service (SDS) was introduced to provide systematic and comprehensive dental care to school students. The service encompasses promotive, preventive, and, curative dental care. This study aimed to undertake a process evaluation of the SDS based on the perspectives of government secondary school students in Selangor, Malaysia.
METHODS: The study adopted a qualitative approach to explore the opinions of secondary school students on the SDS implementation in their schools. Data from focus group discussions involving Form Two (14-year-olds) and Form Four (16-year-olds) students from the selected schools were transcribed verbatim and coded using the NVivo software before framework method analysis was conducted.
RESULTS: Among the strengths of the SDS were the convenience for students to undergo annual oral examination and dental treatment without having to visit dental clinics outside the school. The SDS also reduced possible financial burdens resulting from dental treatment costs, especially among students from low-income families. Furthermore, SDS helped to improve oral health awareness. However, the oral health education provided by the SDS personnel was deemed infrequent while the content and method of delivery were perceived to be less interesting. The poor attitude of the SDS personnel was also reported by the students.
CONCLUSION: The SDS provides effective and affordable dental care to secondary school students. However, the oral health promotion and education activities need to be improved to keep up with the evolving needs of the target audience.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.