141st APHA Annual Meeting

In This section

A New England community water fluoridation campaign: Using social marketing and community mobilization for policy change

Monday, November 4, 2013

Jodie Silverman, MPA , Special Projects, Health Resources in Action, Boston, MA
Catherine Hayes, D.M.D., Dr.Med.Sc. , Health Resources in Action
Aleya Martin, MPH , Health Resources in Action, Boston, MA
Erin Tighe, MA , Health Resources in Action, Boston, MA
Craig Stevens, MPH , JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc., Burlington, VT
Beth Kane Kopp, MS , JSI Training and Research Institute
Maria Manuela Mendes, MS
Despite its proven effectiveness at promoting oral health in a cost-effective, equitable manner, community water fluoridation (CWF) is often thwarted, and de-fluoridation efforts are ramping up throughout the country. Largely due to a small but vocal and well organized minority that relies on junk science and appeals to fear-based messaging, fluoridation can no longer win on its scientific merits alone.

With support from the DentaQuest Foundation, Health Resources in Action (HRiA) is implementing a new approach to CWF that mobilizes community support via coalition building and grassroots organizing, and deploys a social marketing strategy to understand and leverage community values. These approaches have been applied with great success in the public health field, but have not been applied to oral health practice and policy.

During the initial phase of this multi-year project, we identified ready communities in New England via collaboration with statewide oral health coalitions. Statewide coalitions received mini-grants to identify a local coalition and hire a campaign coordinator. States chose a community coalition using a set of criteria including local fluoridation history, absence of a school dental program, and existence of a coalition with which to partner. We conducted a literature review to identify factors contributing to the success or failure of CWF, and focus groups and stakeholder interviews to gain rich insight into community norms. We will share findings and learnings thus as phase two of the project gets underway. This novel approach to CWF advancement will provide a rich learning experience to inform future campaigns nationally.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the use of social marketing and community mobilizing for community water fluoridation efforts. Assess the political, economic, and social context in which water fluoridation is debated, enacted, or opposed. Demonstrate the significance of gathering input from the local community, particularly around community values.

Keywords: Oral Health, Social Marketing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal on multiple grants focused on social marketing interventions and an array of public health topics including substance abuse, sexual health, obesity prevention, and tobacco prevention. I am currently the co-principal on a multi-year grant to enact community water fluoridation in two New England communities via social marketing and community mobilization.
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.