Objective: In an effort to examine the decreasing oral health trend of Australian dental patients, the Health Belief Model (HBM) was utilised to understand the beliefs underlying brushing and flossing self-care. The HBM states that perception of severity and susceptibility to inaction and an estimate of the barriers and benefits of behavioural performance influence people's health behaviours. Self-efficacy, confidence in one's ability to perform oral self-care, was also examined.
Methods: In dental waiting rooms, a community sample (N=92) of dental patients completed a questionnaire assessing HBM variables and self-efficacy, as well as their performance of the oral hygiene behaviours of brushing and flossing.
Results: Partial support only was found for the HBM with barriers emerging as the sole HBM factor influencing brushing and flossing behaviours. Self-efficacy significantly predicted both oral hygiene behaviours also.
Conclusion: Support was found for the control factors, specifically a consideration of barriers and self-efficacy, in the context of understanding dental patients' oral hygiene decisions.
Practice implications: Dental professionals should encourage patients' self-confidence to brush and floss at recommended levels and discuss strategies that combat barriers to performance, rather than emphasising the risks of inaction or the benefits of oral self-care.
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