Using motivational interviewing to reduce parental risk related behaviors for early childhood caries: A pilot study

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Background: Decades of epidemiological studies have documented high rates of early childhood caries (ECC) among American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) children. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate if a motivational interviewing (MI) intervention improved oral self-care behaviors of AIAN caregivers of infants, and determine if the MI intervention promoted positive changes in caregivers' ECC risk-related behaviors. Methods: Caregivers of infants presenting for well-child visits in a medical clinic were randomized to treatment and control groups. At the first visit, a caries risk test (CRT) for cariogenic bacteria was completed for both groups. The Parental Care of Child's Teeth (PCCT) was administered at the second visit and used to assess ECC risk-related behaviors. Over the course of four well-child visits, caregivers in the treatment group participated in a MI discussion focusing on behavior changes and desired outcomes for their personal oral health and their child's. The duration of the intervention was 1 year. The control group was given oral health information traditionally provided at well-child visits. At the fourth well-child visit, the CRT and PCCT questionnaire were administered again. Results: The mean bacterial load for mutans streptococcus (MS) was similar at both visits. A slight reduction in the mean bacterial levels of lactobacilli was observed in both the test and control groups after the last visit, although not at a level of statistical significance. The treatment group showed minimal improvement in child feeding practices and nighttime bottle habits. Conclusions: Motivational Interviewing had little effect on oral self-care behaviors as measured by bacterial load, nor did MI reduce parental risk related behavior for early childhood caries. Trial registration: NCT04286256. Retrospectively registered, February 26, 2020.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number90
JournalBMC Oral Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 29 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Clinical Translational Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), Office of Engagement for Health, Collaborative Grants Program, University of Minnesota. The involvement of CTSI in this study was solely limited to funding. CTSI was not involved in the design of the study, data collection or analysis or writing of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • American Indian children
  • Early childhood caries
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Oral health


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