Background: Pregnant women are susceptible to oral health issues that place their own health and the health of their pregnancy at risk. There is a strong association between poor oral health and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Effective, quality dental care is essential, yet disparities in oral health care access persist in Georgia, particularly among women covered by Medicaid. This oral health disparity contributes to disparities in pregnancy outcomes, a critical issue for Georgia given the state’s alarmingly high maternal mortality and morbidity rate.
Proposed Solution to the Problem: We intend to leverage the statewide reach of Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA) and its existing maternal oral health working group to engage perinatal women across Georgia and other relevant stakeholders in identifying the most relevant and pressing patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR)/comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) topics related to improving access for maternal oral healthcare.
Objectives: The overall objective of this project is to provide pregnant women across Georgia and other stakeholders a voice in identifying the most relevant and pressing PCOR/CER topics related to improving access for maternal oral healthcare in Georgia.
Aim 1. Expand HMHBGA’s current oral health working group to include pregnant women and ensure geographic representation of both rural and urban regions in Georgia. This expanded group will function as and be called the HMHBGA Maternal Oral Health Advisory Group.
Aim 2. Identify a subset of the HMHBGA Maternal Oral Health Advisory Group (from Aim 1) to serve as a PCOR/CER Working Group charged with laying the groundwork for and advancing PCOR/CER initiatives
Aim 3. Hold a series of workshops for the PCOR/CER Working Group. The work of the eight-member PCOR/CER Working group established in Aim 2 will consist of a series of workshops as follows.
Activities: We will:
- Assess current oral health group membership and identify additional maternal oral health stakeholders
- Identify an eight-member PCOR/CER Working Group
- Hold a series of workshops for the PCOR/CER Working Group that will contribute to building effective multi-stakeholder research teams, PCOR/CER research fundamentals training, and the development of PCOR/CER research questions
- Conduct within-state focus groups of both patients and perinatal and dental providers in both rural and urban areas across Georgia to understand their perspectives on maternal oral healthcare access
- Conduct interviews with leaders of maternal oral health initiatives from 16 states to help inform Georgia PCOR/CER topics and questions
Projected Outcomes and Outputs:
Short-term outcomes during the project period include a list of top priority PCOR/CER topics and research questions aimed at improving access to maternal oral health in Georgia and an “Oral Health & Pregnancy” summit that disseminates the work of our two-year project period.
Medium-term outcomes (0-2 years post-project period) are to obtain funding that will allow us to sustain our HMHBGA Maternal Oral Health Advisory Group and PCOR/CER Working Group, and conduct PCOR/CER research projects based on the top priority research questions identified as part of our specific outputs.
The long-term outcome (3+ years post-project period) is to have an active, productive, and sustainable Maternal Oral Health Advisory Group and PCOR/CER Working Group that will be able to inform and lead initiatives that improve maternal oral health in the state of Georgia, including the conduct of PCOR/CER research, policy recommendations, and scaling.
Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: Patients and key stakeholders in both the Maternal Oral Health Advisory Group and PCOR/CER Working Group will be integral to the achievement of our milestones and aims.
We intend to develop an engagement plan that includes:
- Consistent and effective communication methods such as regular newsletters, digital advertising, and print media to build awareness of and participation in our efforts
- Compensation for patient participants for all workshops and meetings
- Process-oriented strategies such as attendance and monitoring of participation and maintaining member contact lists
- Training in building effective multi-stakeholder research teams
Once developed, this engagement and marketing strategy will be continuously implemented throughout and beyond the PCORI funding period to ensure that our group membership and engagement is robust.
Project Collaborators: Georgia Department of Public Health and Emory University