Motivational Interviewing and Childhood Caries: A Randomised Controlled Trial

Peter Arrow, Joseph Raheb, Rowena McInnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study tested the occurrence of early childhood caries (ECC) and changes in potential mediators of ECC after an early childhood oral health promotion intervention. Methods: Consenting parent/child dyads in Western Australia were randomised into test [motivational interviewing (MI) + anticipatory guidance (AG)] or control (lift the lip assessments by child health nurses). A questionnaire at baseline and follow-ups (at 18, 36 and 60 months) evaluated the parental factors and the children clinically examined. Data were analysed using parametric and non-parametric tests for two groups and paired comparisons. Multivariable analysis used negative binomial regression with robust standard errors for over-dispersed count data and effect estimates presented as incidence rate ratios. Results: Nine hundred and seventeen parent/child dyads were randomised (test n = 456; control n = 461). The parental attitude toward a child’s oral hygiene needs improved among the test group at the first follow-up (n = 377; baseline 1.8, SD 2.2, follow-up 1.5, SD 1.9, p = 0.005). Living in a non-fluoridated area and parents holding a fatalistic belief increased the risk of caries (IRR = 4.2, 95% CI 1.8–10.2 and IRR = 3.5, 95% CI 1.7–7.3), respectively, but MI/AG did not reduce the incidence of dental caries. Conclusion: The brief MI/AG oral health promotion intervention improved parental attitude but did not reduce ECC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4239
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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