Collecting information about the targeted population’s characteristics (demographic data), participation rates, number of students assessed, number of students receiving dental sealants, sealant-retention rates, and presence of dental caries and sealants is important for all school-based dental sealant programs. Programs need this information to maintain or increase funding and to establish a rationale for maintaining or expanding the program. If all school-based dental sealant programs collect this basic information, program administrators will be able to compare student profiles, sealants placed, and program costs with those of other sealant programs.
Most school-based dental sealant program data are derived from returned consent forms and student records, which are discussed later. Methods used to collect these data vary among programs and depend upon program size, available resources, and the purposes for which the data will be used. Methods range from hand tabulation to direct computer data entry with computer-generated reports.
As program administrators make decisions about data-collection methods, they may wish to seek the advice of existing school-based dental sealant program administrators, individuals with training in statistical analysis, and individuals familiar with Medicaid billing and collections.
School-based dental sealant programs administered by agencies (e.g., local health departments, community health centers) may have access to computers, billing systems, and individuals with expertise in data collection, analysis, and billing. If the agency administering the program offers other clinical services, it is likely that a billing system is in place that collects demographic and treatment information. The system may be modified to accommodate the program’s data-collection needs.