Educational Programme on Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice of Oral Care/Hygiene Provision by Healthcare Providers to Older Residents in Long-Term Care Institutions: A Case-Control Study

Geriatrics (Basel). 2024 Jan 29;9(1):16. doi: 10.3390/geriatrics9010016.


Background: Much attention has been paid to advocate proper oral care/hygiene provision by healthcare providers in long-term care institutions (LTCIs). This study aimed to evaluate the effects of an oral health education (OHE) programme (intervention) on knowledge, attitudes, and practice (KAP) of healthcare providers in providing oral care/hygiene to older residents in LTCIs.

Methods: A case control study was conducted at two LTCIs, with one assigned as the intervention group and the other as the control group. A KAP survey was administered before and after the intervention, and oral status was assessed by standardized clinical photographs taken before and after oral hygiene provision on three older residents.

Results: A total of 40 healthcare providers (20 in intervention and 20 in control groups) participated, with the attitudes and overall KAP significantly improved in the intervention group after the OHE programme. Interestingly, the knowledge of those in the control LTCI was significantly declined at re-evaluation (mean scores were from 17.25 to 14.30), indicating inadequate oral health and care training despite having more experience in taking care of older people. Significant differences in practice were observed between the two groups after the OHE programme (p = 0.006). The three older residents exhibited poor oral health and multiple oral problems.

Conclusions: This study revealed that the OHE programme effectively improved attitudes of the healthcare providers and provided a sustaining effect on attitude towards oral health and oral care. However, there were still inadequacies in oral hygiene provision by some healthcare providers, possibly due to unattended oral diseases and hygiene needs, as well as personal and environmental barriers that merit further investigation. Regular evaluation and enforcement of oral care/hygiene provision in LTCIs are necessary to maintain oral health and prevent dental and gum diseases in older residents. Immediate referral for dental treatment is recommended for older people with signs of dental/oral disease(s).

Keywords: attitudes; healthcare providers; knowledge; long-term care institutions; older; oral care; practice.