248608 Exploring oral health literacy messages among rural, low-Income mothers

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bonnie Braun, PhD , Department of Family Science, University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park, MD
Elizabeth F. Maring, PhD , Department of Family Science, University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD
Sheila Mammen, PhD , Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Yoshie Sano, PhD , Department of Human Development, Washington State University at Vancouver, Vancouver, VT
Linda Aldoory, PhD , Department of Communications, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Rural mothers and their children experience poor oral health. They also experience low levels of health literacy. Tooth decay, the number one oral health disease, can be prevented when mothers understand the importance of drinking water and using toothpaste with fluoride. Unknown is how to effectively frame oral health prevention messages that could lead to positive changes in knowledge and behavior among this at-risk population.

A multi-state, qualitative research study was undertaken to determine: 1) how best to engage diverse and representative members of low-income, rural mothers in tailoring the content, style, and delivery method of oral health messages and 2) which messages most appeal and why. A learner-focused approach engaged 80 mothers from five racial/ethnic groups in ten focus groups and 96 other mothers in individual interviews in testing a set of oral health messages designed using health literacy principles.

Early analysis revealed that participating mothers agreed it was extremely important for health messages to resonate with their everyday life and role as mother. They argued that current health messages don't address the chaos and constraints or lack of control they feel when they must rely on health practitioners. They recommended that messages focus on three points: 1) a spokesperson who shared their identities; 2) an element of empathy for their everyday constraints, illustrated by the spokesperson or by the content of health messages; and 3) steps that were simple, quick and expressed directly what the mothers can do in spite of or in context of their chaotic lives.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Communication and informatics
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
List three guidelines for developing oral health messages for rural, low-income mothers. Match sample oral health messages to a set of evidence-based guidelines.

Keywords: Health Literacy, Oral Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a multi-state Co-PI and the state of Maryland PI on the study being presented. I contributed to the design, instrumentation, methodology and analysis of the data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.