A Health Inequalities Impact Assessment of the surveillance of COVID-19 in asymptomatic patients attending dental settings in Scotland

Jacky Burns (Lead / Corresponding author), Niall Mc Goldrick, Debbie Sigerson, Maura Edwards, Shauna Culshaw, Claire Clark, Chris Watling, Raymond Braid, Emma O'Keefe, Megan Gorman, David I. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Introduction: A key aspect of the public health response to COVID-19 in Scotland was enhanced community surveillance, including testing in dental settings. Across Scotland, dental settings offered patients over 5-years-old the opportunity to participate in community surveillance of COVID-19.

Methods: A Health Inequalities Impact Assessment (HIIA) was conducted to understand the differential impacts the programme would have on the population and to improve the accessibility of the programme. HIIA is a tool to allow the assessment, understanding, and mitigation of impacts on people of a proposed policy or practice. It fulfils an organisational duty to meet the requirements of the Equality Act and Fairer Scotland Duty. The HIIA was conducted rapidly in parallel with the programme development. An action research approach included an online workshop, consultation, review of population data and a literature search.

Results: Adjustments were required to improve the programme's accessibility. Stakeholders, including dental teams from across Scotland were involved in the consultation and brought their front-line experience in different settings. Common issues identified included digital literacy and access, language and cultural barriers to participation, and issues relating to the implications of a positive COVID-19 result. Literature indicated limited evidence on the acceptability, accessibility, and equity of asymptomatic COVID-19 surveillance.

Conclusion: This HIIA was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. As an example of good practice in tackling inequalities in access to programmes it should represent the benchmark for other similar initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-259
Number of pages6
JournalCommunity Dental Health
Issue number4
Early online date25 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Health Services Accessibility
  • COVID-19
  • Public Health
  • Dentistry
  • Health equity
  • Public Health Surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • General Dentistry


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