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Duke Endowment Consortium

Evaluation & Technical Assistance Partnership for the Duke Endowment Oral Health Grant Portfolio

Goal of the Consortium

  • Assist the Duke Endowment with an evaluation of their oral health grant portfolio.
  • Coordinate with The Duke Endowment to provide technical assistance to their grantees in the field of oral health.
  • Create a consortium of oral health experts to develop a research agenda that advances evidence-based policies for improving oral health care delivery and public health dental programs. 


As part of a two-state agenda, professionals from both states have been included in all aspects of this project. To assure complete coverage of all areas regarding oral and public health in schools and vulnerable populations, advisors include individuals from Medicaid, professional societies, state offices of rural health, public health agencies, and policymakers. Aside from the DPOH at MUSC, we have recruited assistance from University of North Carolina Charlotte, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Dental School, East Carolina University, University of South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, and DentaQuest Safety Net Solutions. 


South Carolina and North Carolina both have demonstrated inequities in oral health particularly among children and vulnerable adults. These inequities are exacerbated by state policies, Medicaid fee structures, and other related oral health regulations. Also, contributing to the problem is the chronic shortage of dentists that has been recognized in most counties of both states. 


The DPOH, along with Safety Net Solutions, will evaluate school-based oral health programs and care models within both states. Data will be collected in the areas of oral health services provided by the school programs. Recommendations will be made to The Duke Endowment based upon findings in the focus areas of the project. This will allow the DPOH and Duke Endowment to analyze data before and after the implementation of the recommendations. Additionally, the DPOH will manage the two-state consortium whose purpose is to support The Duke Endowment through the evaluation of oral health grants, and providing technical assistance to Duke Endowment grantees. 

Measures of Success

  • In the school-based oral health programs, the measures will include data supported improvements in public health and capacity enhancements. Public health improvements are defined as number of cavities, sealants, untreated cavities, and the urgency of the treatments. Capacity enhancements are related to the business aspect of the school oral health programs. The indicators to track the success of the programs are profit/loss statements, growth in schools, and number of students served compared to the overall population (market penetration). 
  • There are many facets necessary to successfully elevate oral health in the community. First indicator is the improvement in the oral health provided through primary care practices. This is a concept known as interprofessionalism. Also, part of interprofessionalism, is the advancement of collaborative referral management between primary care and local dentists. Since unmet dental needs can worsen underlying medical conditions, there needs to be free-flowing lines of communication between general and oral health practitioners. By improving this aspect, it will also reduce the number of emergency room visits for dental reasons. 
  • The consortium of oral health experts will produce a research agenda for advancing evidence-based oral health policies in North Carolina and South Carolina. It will include issues related to the delivery of care and dental public health. Successful completion of this will result in an agenda that will be adopted as the guiding principles for extramural funding. 

Funding Source

This project is funded through The Duke Endowment.