East African Journal of Public Health

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The impact of oral health education for caregivers on school children’s utilization of dental services: a school dental screening intervention study at Ibadan, Nigeria

Omolola T. Alade, Michael A. Adedigba, Juliana O. Taiwo, Gbemisola A. Oke


Objective: To test the impact of oral health education for caregivers on children’s utilization of dental services.

Methods: Schools were randomly allocated into control and experimental groups. The children in both groups underwent a dental screening exercise. An oral health education program was delivered to caregivers of the children in the experimental group only. Children found to have an unmet oral health need were referred for care. The outcome was the proportion of referred children utilizing dental services in both groups after 4 months. Chi square analysis was used; level of significance was set at p<0.05.

Results: A total of 622 school children (mean age 12.3 ± 1.81) years were screened. Overall, 190 (30.5%) were referred for care. After 4 months, 8 of the 94 (8.5%) referred children in the experimental group utilized dental services while only one of the 96 (1.0%) children in the control group did so. This difference was statistically significant (X12 = 4.63, p = 0.03).

Conclusion: An oral health education programme for caregivers resulted in a statistically significant but unimportant difference in children’s dental service utilization.

Keywords: health care utilization, screening, health services need

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