The impact of treatment cost on low SES families: An orthodontic viewpoint

Lee Smith*, Hannah Jack, Joseph Antoun, Peter Fowler, Keely Blanch, Lyndie Foster Page

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: It is reported that in New Zealand financially disadvantaged adolescents are less likely to access orthodontic treatment than the more affluent in society. Objectives: The aim of the study was to investigate the attitudes of a group of New Zealand orthodontists towards the current fee-for-service model of treatment funding. A second aim was to explore orthodontists’ perceptions of how the affordability of orthodontic treatment affects low socio-economic families. Methods: As part of the project, 11 volunteer orthodontists were interviewed. A subsequent content analysis of the collected data was performed. Results: Most participants reported that parents would feel inadequate if they were unable to secure orthodontic treatment for their child; however, some participants also indicated that it was common for parents to ‘go without’ to fund their child’s treatment. Most participants maintained that the government should only fund treatment for severely disabling malocclusions but not other treatments due to the limited health budget and orthodontic treatment being primarily considered for aesthetic reasons. Some participants reported that if the government funded orthodontic treatment, it would result in over subscription and compromised standards of care. Conclusion: Despite some low socio-economic families being unable to access orthodontic treatment because of the expense, the current fee-for-service model may be the best method for delivering high standards of orthodontic care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalAustralasian Orthodontic Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

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