Assessing the knowledge and dissemination of nutrition information related to oral health in WIC counselors and clients
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Purpose: To determine whether providing WIC counselors with targeted nutrition education related to oral health increases the dissemination of that information to WIC clients. Methods: WIC counselors at 17 clinics in three Washington State counties received an oral health nutrition assessment. Counselors were assigned to a control or intervention group, the intervention being a presentation on oral health nutrition. Counselors who received the presentation repeated the assessment to see if there was an immediate increase in oral health nutrition knowledge. Three months later, all counselors repeated the assessment. A convenience sample of WIC clients at all clinics also received an assessment to see if there was a difference in oral health knowledge in clients based on whether their counselors received the intervention. Results: 69 WIC counselors and 94 WIC clients participated in the study. A comparison of the control group pre-assessment (mean=76.8) and three month follow-up assessment scores (74.9) showed little change. Comparison of the pre-, post-, and three month follow-up scores of the intervention group showed a significant difference between pre- and post-assessment scores (p<0.001). Three months later, the scores of the intervention group were still significantly higher than their pre-assessment scores (p<0.001). While there was no significant difference between the control (mean=76.2) and intervention group (mean=72.2) prior to the presentation (p=0.17), there was a significant difference in scores after the presentation (p=0.020). No significant difference was seen between WIC clients when comparing the control (mean=62.4) and intervention (mean= 63.9) assessment scores (p=0.50). Discussion: In our study, providing WIC counselors with targeted nutrition information as it relates to oral health significantly increased their oral health knowledge and the information gained through the presentation was significantly retained after three months. Counselors who receive training in oral health will have more accurate knowledge and will be more equipped to educate their clients on their dietary habits. Inter-professional relationships and training can increase the health knowledge and promotion among personnel outside their own specialty, ultimately increasing the number of professionals who can provide appropriate oral health education. While there was an increase in WIC counselor oral health knowledge, no increase was seen in the assessment scores of the WIC clients. Future studies should examine how inter-professional approaches to oral health promotion can be most effective among high-risk populations.
- Dentistry