OBJECTIVE: Early childhood caries (ECC) is a serious and preventable disease which pediatric clinicians can help address by counseling to reduce risk.
RESEARCH DESIGN: We implemented a multifaceted practice-based intervention in a pediatric outpatient clinic treating children vulnerable to ECC (N = 635), comparing results to those from a similar nearby clinic providing usual care (N = 452).
INTERVENTION: We provided communication skills training using the approach of patient centered counseling, edited the electronic medical record to prompt counseling, and provided parents/caregivers with an educational brochure.
OUTCOME MEASURES: We assessed changes in provider knowledge about ECC after the intervention, and examined providers’ counseling practices and incidence of ECC over time by site, controlling for baseline ECC, patient sociodemographics and parents’/caregivers’ practice of risk factors (diet, oral hygiene, tooth-monitoring), among 1045 children with complete data.
RESULTS: Provider knowledge about ECC increased after the intervention training (percentage correct answers improved from 66% to 79%). Providers at the intervention site used more counseling strategies, which persisted after adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics. Children at the intervention site had a 77% reduction in risk for developing ECC at follow up, after controlling for age and race/ethnicity, sociodemographics and ECC risk factors; P <or= 0.004.
CONCLUSIONS: The multifaceted intervention was associated with increased provider knowledge and counseling, and significantly attenuated incidence of ECC. If validated by additional studies, similar interventions could have the potential to make a significant public health impact on reducing ECC among young children.