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Eur J Paediatr Dent. 2004 Jun;5(2):76-80.

Clinical outcomes for Early Childhood Caries (ECC): the influence of health locus of control.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.



To assess the relationship between clinical outcomes for children treated for ECC and health locus of control.


The study cohort consisted of 79 children (42 males, 37 females) treated for ECC; age range was 2.3-7.3 years (mean 4.2 years) at the time of entry into the study. A questionnaire [developed by DeVellis et al., 1993] was administered to each child's parent(s) on the day of dental surgery. This questionnaire examined the expectation that healthcare outcomes in children are influenced by one of the following loci of control: Professional, Parent, Child, Media, Fate and Divine. The cohort was evaluated for new caries lesions at 6 months post dental surgery. Relapse was defined as the presence of new smooth surface caries lesions.


For each locus, the scores for the Relapse versus Non-relapse groups (returning patients) and the scores for the returning versus non-returning patients were compared using t-tests.


57 children (72%) returned for follow-up and 21 of these 57 (37%) relapsed. No statistically significant difference for Relapse versus Non-relapse groups was indicated with respect to the scores for any locus parameter (p values ranged from 0.35 to 0.95). Returning parents (N=57) versus non- returning parents (N=22) exhibited statistically significant differences with respect to the Parent, Divine and Fate loci. Returning parents exhibited higher scores on the Parent locus (p=0.0392) and lower scores on the Fate (p=0.0024) and Divine (p=0.0031) loci.


1). The relapse rate (37%) was high and rapid for children treated for ECC; 2). no meaningful difference existed between the Relapse versus Non-relapse groups with respect to each health locus of control parameter; 3). parents who returned for follow-up care appeared to have an internal health locus of control while those who did not return had an external locus.

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