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Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1996 Aug;24(4):231-5.

Is dental health education effective? A systematic review of current evidence.

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Department of Oral Health and Development, Tumer Dental School University of Manchester, England.


In order that health service resources are allocated in the way which most benefits the population, systematic review of the available evidence regarding the effectiveness of programmes and interventions are required. This study examined papers relating to dental health education interventions, which were published between 1982 and 1994 (n = 143). Each was scored by two independent researchers according to twenty predetermined validity criteria. For each paper which achieved a validity score of more than 12 (n = 37), data concerning the objectives of the intervention, the types and numbers of participants, and the outcomes, were extracted from the article. Where sufficient data were provided in a paper which met more than 15 of the validity criteria quantitative meta-analysis was carried out i.e. the results of the studies were pooled in order to calculate an overall intervention effect with confidence intervals. This combination of qualitative and quantitative review techniques showed that dental health interventions have: a small positive, but temporary effect on plaque accumulation (reduction in plaque index = 0.37 95% CI -0.29-0.59); no discernible effect on caries increment and a consistent positive effect on knowledge levels. The results of this analysis suggest that further efforts to synthesise current information about dental health education, in a systematic way, are required, along with maintenance of rigorous scientific standards in evaluation research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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