Key Concept: Target Population Selection

Selecting a target population helps you focus limited resources on specific people or groups of people in your community. When choosing a target population, you might want to consider groups that historically have had difficulty accessing or paying for oral health services or groups located outside the “traditional” dental clinic. This approach can help you both narrow your scope and gain increased support from payers that fund programs for older adults. Potential target populations among older adults who’re generally underserved include groups living in the following circumstances.

  • Low-income, uninsured, or underinsured
  • Rural residence
  • Residential care facilities
  • Homebound situations
  • Special health care needs
  • Homeless or displaced

In addition to considering the populations listed above, your needs assessment can help you select your target population. The list below offers more tips for selecting a target population.

  • Confirm that the populations you’re considering have specific oral health needs and ensure that baseline data is available for these older adults. This information helps you evaluate your program’s impact on participants.
  • Consider why the oral health issue hasn’t already been addressed for this population, and identify current barriers to care. This information helps you anticipate challenges when working with these older adults.
  • Contact state oral health programs, local health departments, and dental schools in the state for additional information on potential target populations, and collect results from surveys conducted recently.
  • Begin thinking about the location for delivery of your oral health care services, places that older adults can access easily.