Background Collaboration between primary care personnel and dental personnel to prevent early childhood caries has been established in several countries. The purpose of this study was, firstly, to describe health nurses’ experiences and attitudes regarding collaboration with dental personnel, and secondly, to identify characteristic of health nurses and health centres associated with the collaboration. Methods Health nurses working with children answered a questionnaire. In total, 163 of 296 health nurses (55 %) reported demographic information, referral routines, frequency of and reasons for referral of young children to dental personnel, contact with dental personnel and satisfaction with the collaboration. Data were analysed using multivariate logistic regression. Results The majority of health nurses (83 %) were familiar with referral routines and 31 % reported referring children to dental personnel monthly or more often. The most frequent reasons for referral were clinical caries (52 %), dental discolouration (38 %) and dental trauma (34 %). Few health nurses (18 %) had contact with dental personnel monthly or more often. Two-thirds of health nurses (71 %) reported being satisfied with the collaboration with dental personnel. Results of multivariate analysis showed that health nurses were more likely to refer children when the proportion of immigrant children under care in the health centres was high than when proportion of immigrant children was low (OR 6.4, CI 2.7–14.9). Health nurses working in small health centres were more likely to be satisfied with the collaboration than health nurses working in large health centres (OR 3.2, CI 1.4–7.0). Health nurses 45 years or older were more likely to possess knowledge of referral routines than younger health nurses (OR 2.7, CI 1.1–6.4). Conclusions The results indicated that the majority of health nurses possessed knowledge of collaboration routines and were satisfied with the collaboration. The proportion of immigrant children under care in the health centres, the size of the health centres and the age of health nurses were factors influencing the collaboration between primary care personnel and dental personnel.
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