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J Am Dent Assoc. 2004 Jun;135(6):731-8.

Motivating parents to prevent caries in their young children: one-year findings.

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  • 1Behavioral Dental Research Program, University of Washington, Health Sciences Center, Seattle 98195-7475, USA.



The authors conducted a study to compare the effect of a motivational interviewing counseling treatment with that of traditional health education on parents of young children at high risk of developing dental caries.


The authors enrolled in the study parents of 240 infants aged 6 to 18 months and randomly assigned them to either a motivational interviewing, or MI, group or a traditional health education (control) group. Parents in the control group received a pamphlet and watched a video. Parents in the MI group also received the pamphlet and watched the video; in addition, they received a personalized MI counseling session and six follow-up telephone calls.


After one year, children in the MI group had .71 new carious lesions (standard deviation, or SD, = 2.8), while those in the control group had 1.91 (SD = 4.8) new carious lesions (t[238] = 2.37, one-tailed, P < .01).


MI is a promising approach that should receive further attention.


MI may lead parents and others to better accept dental recommendations about preventing caries in their children.

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