Using Social Media to Implement Clinical Guidelines on Dental Caries Prevention and Management for Pre-School Children in Hong Kong: A Randomised Clinical Trial

Gillian Lee, Colman McGrath, Cynthia Yiu
Faculty of Dentistry, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Background: This cluster randomised trial aimed to test the effectiveness of using social media to implement the evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) informing caries prevention and management by caries risk assessment for Hong Kong pre-school children among caregivers. Use of social media has not yet been evaluated as an approach for promotion of behaviour change in the community.

Methods: Parents/caregivers and their children from 16 pre-schools in Hong Kong were recruited. The pre-schools were randomly allocated to three groups: Facebook group (FB), Facebook and booklet group (FB & B) and Booklet group (B) to receive information about the CPGs. One-hour workshops were also held to disseminate the CPGs in schools. During baseline, 6- and 12-month, parents/caregivers completed a questionnaire about oral health knowledge, family dental health practices and attitudes towards dental health care. Data on children’s dental health status and their caries risk were also collected. Sample size and power were determined based on an anticipated 10% changes and retention of oral health knowledge, changes and adherence in children’s dental health practices and oral health-related habits and changes in caregivers’ attitudes towards dental care. The oral health outcome in terms of increments in carious lesions and changes in periodontal health of the children were also compared.

Results: The study recruited 996 parent/caregiver-child pairs over the 12-month period (male: 50.2%; female:49.8%). There were improvement in the parents/caregivers oral health knowledge and attitudes towards dental care and the child’s oral health-related habits in all groups. There were also changes in the children’s oral health outcome in the groups.

Conclusions: The use of social networking (Facebook) to deliver oral health care recommendations and caries prevention methods recommended by the Hong Kong clinical guidelines on caries prevention and management for parents/caregivers of pre-school children is effective.

Gillian Lee