Adolescents' views of oral health education. A qualitative study

Acta Odontol Scand. 2005 Oct;63(5):300-7. doi: 10.1080/00016350510020061.


The objective of this study was to investigate adolescents' perceptions and desires with respect to oral health education. A series of focus group sessions was conducted with adolescents in schools. The groups comprised an average of 6 individuals, with a total of 34 participants. The main themes of the discussions were the informants' perceptions of the oral health education in different settings and under varying circumstances. The discussions were transcribed verbatim and analyzed according to the basic principles of Grounded Theory. One of the most important issues appeared to be the dental personnel considering the individual as a subject and not as an object. The adolescents in the study were uncertain about their knowledge of oral health. Often, the participants expressed a wish to be taught more at the dental visit. Information in schools was sparse. The support of parents was acknowledged but little discussed. The methods used in advertisements to describe dental products were met with skepticism. These should not be imitated in oral health education as this might undermine the credibility of the dental services. Girls were perceived to be more interested in health than boys were. Two core categories labeled "credibility" and "confidence", which interacted continually, emerged from the data in the analysis. The results indicate that the credibility of the intermediary of the health messages is essential, as is their ability to create confidence. Thus, oral health education among adolescents is more likely to be successful when credibility and confidence are perceived.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Education, Dental*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Sweden