CAHSS Faculty Presentations, Proceedings, Lectures, and Symposia


Evaluating a Special Needs Dental Clinic at NSU: Incorporating Qualitative Data

Event Name

The Qualitative Report Eighth Annual Conference

Event Location

Nova Southeastern University, Florida, U.S.A.


Department of Justice and Human Services

Document Type


Presentation Date



This paper illustrates how qualitative reports from families utilizing a special needs dental clinic (the NSU Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Dental Clinic) can direct researchers toward a greater understanding of the needs of a specific population (children with ASDs). We examined qualitative data to answer the following research question: how and why do families select our dental clinic for the care of their children? Data were drawn from a larger 5-year grant funded by HRSA focusing on the training of dental residents in the treatment of children with ASDs. Qualitative anecdotal information was gathered during appointments; two major themes emerged related to the reasons for clinic use: consistent presence of a 29 caring, specially trained dental practitioner, and lack of available providers to work with children with ASDs. These unexpected findings prompted changes in the design of the patient pre-treatment assessment forms (a quantitative data source) to include an open-ended question about the specific factors related to the use of clinic. The new qualitative information, used in conjunction with the existing quantitative data, can give voice to the families utilizing our clinic and provide valuable information for tapping into hidden populations that may be in need of our services.