The effect of a dental health education program on the dental health knowledge of inner-city and non-inner-city elementary age children




Mahon, Joan Ferrier

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The purpose of the study was twofold: (1) To compare pre and posttest dental health knowledge of elementary school children enrolled in an inner-city and non-innercity school; and (2) To evaluate the effect of a comprehensive dental health education program on the dental health knowledge level of upper elementary school children in an inner-city and non-inner-city school. Neuman's Systems Model was the conceptual framework for this study. The research design was a quasi-experimental pretest posttest two-group design conducted with 156 upper elementary school children of one inner-city and one noninner- city in a large public school system. A convenience sample of intact classes of 4th and 5th grade children was randomly assigned to either the experimental or control groups. Two instruments were administered: the Demographic Data Sheet and the Dental Health Knowledge Questionnaire, an 18-item multiple choice test used for both pretesting and posttesting. Internal consistency reliability was assessed at O. 68 for the pilot study and 0.57 for this study using Cronbach's alpha for the total group. Content validity was verified and approved by a panel of experts (elementary educators, health curriculum specialist, dental hygienist, and elementary school nurses). Descriptive statistics were used to summarize demographic data of the total sample. The statistical analysis used was a three-factor ANOVA with repeated measures on one factor. Findings suggested that there was a difference in dental health knowledge after all students received either a comprehensive or regular dental health education program. Although both the inner-city and non-inner-city children improved as a result of the dental health program, the outcome for the non-inner-city children was a greater improvement in dental health knowledge. The findings also indicated that the effect of the treatment group on the improvement from the pretest to posttest dental knowledge was the same for the regular program as it was for the comprehensive program. Further investigation revealed a significant two way interaction between the treatment group and time (pretest and posttest). Both experimental and control groups improved, but there was greater improvement in the experimental group of children who received the comprehensive dental health program. Conclusions include: (1) that a comprehensive dental health education program can be an effective means of increasing knowledge for both inner-city and non-innercity elementary age school children; and (2) that the Neuman Model is effective in designing primary prevention interventions to retain client system stability.



Dental Health, Elementary-aged children, Health education