The Strategic Regional Plan of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CBHSSJB), serving the Quebec Cree communities, mandates the objective of integrating oral health within primary healthcare. Emerging evidence suggests that the integration of oral health into primary healthcare can decrease oral health disparities. This research study aimed to answer the following research question: how and to what extent does the integration of oral health into primary healthcare address the oral health needs of the Cree communities?
We used a multiple-case study design within a qualitative approach and developmental evaluation methodology. The Discovery, Dream, Design and Destiny model of appreciative inquiry was selected as a study framework among existing frameworks of the developmental evaluation.
Four purposefully selected Cree communities.
Healthcare providers, administrators and patients at the community wellness centres and hospital.
Integration of oral health into primary healthcare.
A total of 36 interviews and 6 focus group discussions were conducted. We identified ten themes in discovery and dream phases. The Discovery phase identified the strengths of the organisation in facilitating enablers of integration including strategic planning, organisational structure, cultural integration, coordinated networks and colocation. In the Dream phase, participants' oral healthcare stories expressed various dimensions of integration and their wish for strengthening integration via extending public oral healthcare programmes, increasing resources and improving organisational management. In the Design phase, recommendations were formulated for a future action plan within the CBHSSJB.
This study results suggested that the CBHSSJB has been successful in implementing oral health integration into primary care following its strategic planning. At present, the organisation could extend the level of integration into full integration by following study recommendations derived from the perspective of local stakeholders.