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J Public Health Dent. 2009 Winter;69(1):18-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2008.00088.x.

Developing an acceptability assessment of preventive dental treatments.

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  • 1School of Dentistry, Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



Early childhood caries (ECC) is very prevalent among young Hispanic children. ECC is amenable to a variety of preventive procedures, yet many Hispanic families underutilize dental services. Acceptability research may assist in health care planning and resource allocation by identifying patient preferences among efficacious treatments with the goal of improving their utilization. The purposes of this study were (a) to develop a culturally competent acceptability assessment instrument, directed toward the caregivers of young Hispanic children, for five preventive dental treatments for ECC and (b) to test the instrument's reliability and validity.


An instrument of five standard treatments known to prevent ECC was developed, translated, reviewed by focus groups, and pilot tested, then tested for reliability The instrument included illustrated cards, brief video clips, and samples of the treatments and was culturally appropriate for low-income Hispanic caregivers. In addition to determining the acceptability of the five treatments individually, the treatments were also presented as paired comparisons.


Focus groups and debriefing interviews following the pilot tests established that the instrument has good face validity. The illustrated cards, product samples, and video demonstrations of the five treatments resulted in an instrument possessing good content validity. The instrument has good to excellent test-retest reliability, with identical time 1-time 2 responses for each of the five treatments 92 percent of the time (range 87 to 97 percent), and the same treatment of the paired comparisons preferred 75 percent of the time (range 61 to 90 percent).


The acceptability instrument described is reliable and valid and may be useful in program planning efforts to identify and increase the utilization of preferred ECC preventive treatments for target populations.

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