Title: The effect of a brief computer-assisted intervention on oral health-related behaviours among adolescents
Abstract: Aim The aim of this study was to see if a brief, computer-assisted intervention tool could be pleasant to use for adolescents. Another aim was to evaluate if the computer programme could affect adolescents’ oral health-related behaviours.
Materials and methods Study design: For oral health promotion on schoolchildren, a computer-assisted intervention with personal feedback was performed. The effectiveness of the programme on participants’ oral health behaviours as well as the feasibility of the programme were evaluated by responses of the participants. The study was conducted on 13–15 year-old schoolchildren (n=112). The computer programme included 19 questions about oral health-related behaviours and it provided personal feedback and tips towards better oral health. Additionally, the participants gave feedback about the programme. After four weeks, the intervention was repeated, the same questions were asked again, and the effect of the intervention on oral health behaviours was evaluated.
Results More than half of the children considered the computer programme useful, girls (56.9%) more often than boys (44.9%) (p = 0.057). Almost everyone reported having learnt new information through the programme. Most of the new information concerned oral hygiene and the effects of different beverages on dental health (over 40% on both issues). Both genders reported having changed their oral health behaviours towards better habits. Girls generally improved their meal quality, while boys cut down on snacking and used more xylitol products. The computer-assisted intervention gave positive results and the programme seemed to be easy and pleasant to use for both adolescents and oral health professionals.Statistics: The results concerning the computer programme were described as frequencies, distributions and graphically. Chi-square test or Fisher’s exact test was used when compared distributions between different questions and gender as well as questions and groups. The participants were categorised into three groups according to their sum scores (calculated from responses to the questions on oral health-related behaviours). The differences between the sum scores at baseline and after the intervention were analysed with the paired samples t-test.
Conclusions Information technology seems to have a remarkable potential in motivating patients towards better oral health behaviours.