61 Health Literacy and Dental Fear – Exploring Parents’ Responses

Thursday, March 22, 2012: 8 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
Presentation Type: Oral Session
W.K. SHIN, M.R. ESTRELLA, and M.R. INGLEHART, Dept of POM, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Objectives: Dental fear has serious consequences for patients’ utilization of oral health care services. Understanding which factors might affect dental fear could potentially provide insights into how to manage patients with dental fear successfully. The objectives were to explore whether there is a relationship between poor oral health literacy and higher dental fear and whether a lack of parents’ oral health literacy is related to their children’s oral health.

Methods: Survey data were collected from 260 parents/guardians who brought their child to a regularly scheduled dental appointment. Oral health literacy was assessed with the REALD-30 and dental fear with the Dental Anxiety Scale – revised version.

Results: The parents’ oral health literacy scores ranged from a low score of 7 to the highest possible score of 30. Oral health literacy was correlated with parents’ years of schooling (r= .27; p<.001) and their income (r=.18; p.004). As predicted, oral health literacy correlated negatively with the parents’ dental fear (r=-.14; p=.024) and positively with their oral health (r=.23; p<.001). The parents’ dental fear correlated with their comfort level concerning bringing their child to the dentist (r=.20; p=.001) as well as with their perception of their child’s level of comfort with the dental visit (r=.14; p=.026). The higher the parents’ oral health literacy was, the fewer pulp treatment in primary teeth their children had.

Conclusions: Understanding that a lack of oral health literacy can contribute to increasing dental fear and to reducing the level of comfort with utilizing dental health care services should challenge oral health care providers to develop non verbal / visual information strategies to inform parents about oral health related issues.

Keywords: Behavioral science, Children, Health services research, Pedodontics and Preventive dentistry
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