Title: An intervention program to reduce dental avoidance behaviour among adolescents: a pilot study
Abstract: Aim To develop and test the methodology of an intervention to reduce avoidance of dental care among adolescents, and to measure the respondents’ beliefs regarding the intervention (credibility and cognitions). Methods Based on a group comparison design a sample of 18 year olds (n=50) with dental non-attendance behaviour was randomly selected to three experimental and one control group. Subjects were surveyed with one baseline questionnaire and one post-intervention questionnaire, to evaluate their beliefs regarding the program. Two different instruments were tested: 1) cards representing different statements related to previous dental experiences, possible reasons for attending (pros) and not attending (cons) dental appointments, and preferences for future treatment. Cards were selected based on individual priority; 2) a brief, structured telephone interview based on Motivational Interviewing. The instruments were tested separately (groups I and II) and in combination (group III). Subjects in the control group (group IV) were given conventional health education. Results Subjects in the experimental groups had significantly higher credibility scores to the statement “How much easier do you perceive dental treatment to be for you, based on this program”, compared with the control group (p<0.05). They had also more positive beliefs to the statement “I think the interviewer liked to talk to me” (p<0.05) than controls. Conclusion A questionnaire sent to non-attending adolescents followed by a brief telephone call based on Motivational Interviewing appears to be a credible intervention for adolescents avoiding dental care.