European Association of Dental Public Health (EADPH) conference edition:16 location:Rome, Italy date:22-24 September 2011
Aim. Parental attitudes and beliefs towards oral health are associated with caries increment in their offspring. This study is aimed (1) to investigate longitudinal changes in parental determinants of oral health behaviour based on the Theory of planned behaviour in preschool children and (2) to evaluate these time trends in relation to maternal education level.
Methods. Questionnaire data were obtained from parents of 1,057 children, or 64% of all children born between October 2003 and July 2004 in two distinct regions in Flanders (Belgium). All participants attended well-baby clinics and were Dutch-speaking. Validated questionnaires were used at birth, at age three and age five to assess attitudes, social norms, perceived behavioural control and intention towards three oral health related behaviours: dietary habits, oral hygiene habits and dental attendance. Multivariate analyses of variance with repeated measures were used to examine differences in determinants of parental oral health behaviour associated with maternal education level.
Results. Analyses were performed on the data of 42% of the participants. Multivariate testing indicated a main effect of education level (p<0.05) and age (p<0.001) for the three oral health related behaviours. In general, positive parental attitudes towards oral health related behaviours increased between the child’s birth and the age of three years (p<0.001), whereas the scores for subjective norms and intentions decreased (p<0.001). Scores remained stable in the following years. For perceived behavioural control, different patterns were seen for the three behaviours. Mothers with a higher educational level scored significantly higher on attitudes, perceived behavioural control and intentions compared to low-educated mothers (p<0.05).
Conclusion. Parental determinants of oral health behaviour changed over time and differed according to maternal education level. Health promotion campaigns aiming to change parental oral health behaviours should take these natural and differential alterations in dental beliefs into account when developing and evaluating interventions.