Impact of Oral Health Education on the Knowledge, Behaviors, Attitudes, and Self-Efficacy of Caregivers for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

J Dent Hyg. 2021 Apr;95(2):21-27.


Purpose: Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have a higher risk of oral disease and require assistance in performing oral self-care. The purpose of this study was to measure the impact of an oral health education program in improving caregivers' oral health knowledge, attitudes, behavior, and self-efficacy in providing oral health care to clients with IDD, residing in intermediate care facilities.Methods: A non-probability sample of new hire caregivers (n=47) for clients with IDD residing in an intermediate care facility was used for this quasi-experimental study. A one-group repeated measures design was used to explore the effectiveness of an oral health education program. All variables were examined using summary statistics and evaluated for normality and statistical assumptions.Results: Forty-seven participants attended the oral health education program intervention and completed the pre- and post-intervention questionnaire. Seventy percent (n=33) completed the four-week post-questionnaire. A statistically significant (p=0.004) improvement in knowledge between the baseline questionnaire and four-week questionnaire was identified. Findings demonstrated slight increases in knowledge for caregivers with <1 year experience, and in those with previous medical training. No significant differences were found in behaviors or attitudes from baseline to the four-week follow up, however, there was a trend toward positive behavior changes.Conclusion: Increased knowledge alone is not adequate to bring about and maintain positive oral health behavior change. Longer-term caregiver interventions, in addition to on-site support for oral care, are warranted to evaluate outcomes for individuals with IDD with the goal of reducing the burden of oral disease.

Keywords: caregivers; developmental disabilities; intellectual disabilities; intermediate care facility; oral care; oral health; oral health education.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Caregivers*
  • Child
  • Developmental Disabilities / therapy
  • Humans
  • Oral Health
  • Self Efficacy*