An Evaluation of a Storybook Targeting Parental Attitudes, Intention, and Self-Efficacy to Change Their Child’s Oral Health Behavior

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Objective: Methods for reducing dental disease have traditionally focused on health education rather than targeting psychosocial determinants of the core behaviors through behavior change strategies. This study tested a novel intervention in the form of a children’s story (Kitten’s First Tooth) embedded with behavior change techniques (Abraham & Michie, 2008) with the aim of investigating how effective the intervention was at improving parents’ efficacy and intention to enact oral health behaviors for their child. Method: A controlled before and after study conducted in a deprived area of England (n = 149; child mean age 4 years) with an intervention and control group. Changes in task specific parental self-efficacy (PSE) and intention were measured using the Oral Health Behaviors Questionnaire (OHBQ; Adair et al., 2004) at baseline and 3 months following intervention. Results: Of the 149 participants, 129 returned both baseline and evaluation questionnaires (retention 86.6%), 125 of these pairs of questionnaires were used in the analysis (83.4%). The OHBQ was analyzed using a general linear model (ANCOVA). A significant difference was found in favor of the intervention group for PSE related to child tooth brushing behaviors, F(1,1) = 12.04, p = .001, however no change was observed for PSE related to control of dietary sugars. Conclusions: A theorized children’s story can be effective as an oral health promotion intervention by supporting parents to improve their child’s oral health-related behavior. Change was observed for child tooth brushing but not sugar control. This may reflect story contents or may be indicative of difficulties of changing dietary behavior.

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