A cluster randomised, controlled trial of the value of dental health educators in general dental practice

A. S. Blinkhorn, D. Gratrix, P. J. Holloway, Y. M. Wainwright-Stringer, S. J. Ward, H. V. Worthington

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Aim: To test the effectiveness of dental health educators in general dental practice. Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness and cost of primary care trusts seconding dental health educators free of charge to suitable general dental practices to provide dental health counselling to mothers of regularly attending pre-school children at risk to caries. Method: Two-cell, parallel group, cluster randomised, controlled clinical trial of two years' duration. Clinical setting: 30 general dental practices in North-West England. Participants: 269 mothers of 334 pre-school children. Interventions: Those in the test group were given visits to a dental health educator over a 2-year period to counsel mothers of at-risk, pre-school children. The rest were held as a control. Main outcome measures: Caries prevalence of the children and dental health knowledge, attitudes and toothbrushing skills of the parents. The full costs of the exercise were kept throughout. The statistical analysis controlled for the clustering of children within practices. Results: After 2 years, 271 (81%) children and 248 (92%) mothers remained in the study. There was an 18% difference in mean dmft between the groups in favour of the test group children but this was not statistically significant. At the end of the study there was an 18% difference in mean dmft between the groups in favour of the test group children but this was not statistically significant. No difference in plaque levels was found. The mothers in the test group were more knowledgeable, had better attitudes towards the dental health of their offspring and better toothbrushing skills than those in the control. Each 2-hour session to counsel ten parents cost £40. Conclusion: Primary care trusts should carefully consider the cost value of seconding dental health educators to counsel parents of regularly attending, at-risk, pre-school children when considering such an option.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)395-400
    Number of pages5
    JournalBritish Dental Journal
    Volume195
    Issue number7
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2003

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