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Can a brief psychological intervention improve oral health behaviour? A randomised controlled trial.

Journal article
Authors Ulla Wide
Jennie Hagman
Helene Werner
Magnus Hakeberg
Published in BMC oral health
Volume 18
Issue 1
Pages 163
ISSN 1472-6831
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Odontology, Section 1
Pages 163
Language en
Subject categories Applied Psychology, Odontological behavioural science


Dental caries is a major public health issue affecting a large proportion of the general population. The disease is associated with behavioural factors and is thus preventable to a high degree. Individuals may need assistance to be able to change their oral health behaviour. There is a lack of such interventions for adults affected by severe caries. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a form of cognitive behavioural therapy, on oral health behaviour in young adults with poor oral health.The study included a two group parallel randomised controlled trial at general dental clinics, with young adults, 18-25 years of age, ≥ two manifest proximal dental caries lesions (n = 135); 67 were treated with ACT and 68 with standard disease information only, respectively. Primary outcomes: oral health behaviours (tooth-brushing, flossing, use of toothpicks, and additional fluoride use). The CONSORT principles for RCTs were used, including intention-to-treat and per protocol analyses. The Chi-square, Mann-Whitney, and Wilcoxon Signed Rank tests were applied, including effect sizes.The study groups did not differ with regard to oral health behaviour variables at baseline. The intervention group improved all their oral health behaviours significantly over time (effect sizes, 0.26-0.32), while the control group showed improved behaviours on two measures (flossing and additional use of fluoride, effect sizes, 0.22-0.23).By testing a psychological intervention on young adults (18-25 years of age) with a high prevalence of caries, we found an immediate positive effect with improved oral health behaviours.TRN ISRCTN15009620 , retrospectively registered 14/03/2018.

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