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Pediatr Dent. 2005 Sep-Oct;27(5):422-8.

Reliability and validity of brief measures of oral health-related knowledge, fatalism, and self-efficacy in mothers of African American children.

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School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.



Low-income African American children experience high rates of dental caries compared to the general population. Knowledgeable and efficacious caregivers can play an important role in caries prevention. The purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate 4 brief measures reflecting mothers' potentially modifiable cognitions associated with African American children's oral health: (1) knowledge about appropriate bottle use (KBU); (2) knowledge about children's oral hygiene (KCOH); (3) oral health-related fatalism (OHF); and (4) oral health-related self-efficacy (OHSE).


Questions were selected based on reviews of the health promotion and oral health literature, with input from low-income African American caregivers of young children. Reliability and validity were evaluated using survey and dental examination data from 719 low-income African American mothers and their 1- to 5-year-old children.


Alpha reliabilities ranged from 0.76 to 0.91. KCOH was significantly associated with mothers' oral health perceptions and children's caries status. OHSE was significantly positively correlated with children's brushing frequency and with mothers' subjective perceptions of children's oral health, which was, in turn, significantly associated with children's caries status.


Results support the reliability and validity of the new measures. If confirmed by further research, these measures can be used to develop tailored educational and cognitive-behavioral interventions to reduce oral health disparities.

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