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Office of Minority Health Releases E-Learning Program for Oral Health Professionals on Cultural and Linguistic Competency

Posted on April 17, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC--- Today, as part of the Department’s work to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services, the Office of Minority Health announced the release of the Cultural Competency Program for Oral Health Professionals (CCPOHP), an e-learning program designed to better equip oral health professionals with the knowledge and skills to better serve diverse patient populations. One of the first of its kind, the e-learning program is a key component of the HHS Oral Health Initiative launched in 2010, which promotes the effective delivery of oral health services to underserved populations, emphasizes that oral health is an essential component to overall health, and promotes awareness and reduction of oral health disparities in minority and underserved populations.

Oral health disparities remain high among certain racial and ethnic groups. The public health implications of persistent oral health disparities are striking: untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that lead to additional problems in daily activities such as eating and speaking.  In addition, African American and Mexican American adults are more likely than Caucasian adults to have untreated dental caries (Dye et al., 2007) and racial and ethnic minority youth are more likely to be uninsured and have more unmet dental needs than Caucasian youth (Flores & Lin, 2013). Furthermore, oral health disparities are associated with reduced overall quality of life.

Grounded in the principles of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care (National CLAS Standards), the Cultural Competency Program for Oral Health Professionals  is designed for a broad range of oral health professionals, including dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants. The three-course program will offer eligible oral health professionals the opportunity to gain up to six continuing education credits at no cost. The ultimate goal for this e-learning program is for oral health professionals to gain the basic cultural and linguistic competency knowledge and skills necessary to provide high quality, effective oral health care to all individuals. Completion of the program will enable oral health professionals to better recognize and meet the cultural and linguistic needs of all individuals at all points of contact. Interested parties can access and complete the Cultural Competency Program for Oral Health Professionals e-learning program at oralhealth.thinkculturalhealth.hhs.gov.

For additional information, please visit www.ThinkCulturalHealth.hhs.gov and www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov.