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Parental Ethnic Identity and Its Influence on Children's Oral Health in American Indian Families.

  • Author(s): Wilson, Anne R
  • Johnson, Rachel L
  • Albino, Judith
  • Jiang, Luohua
  • Schmiege, Sarah J
  • Brega, Angela G
  • et al.


To examine the relationship between ethnic identity and oral health knowledge, beliefs, behavior, and outcomes in American Indian families.


Secondary data were analyzed for 579 parent-child dyads in a randomized controlled trial aimed at reducing early childhood caries in a Northern Plains tribal community. Data included demographic characteristics; parental ethnic identity; oral health knowledge, beliefs, and behavior; and parental/pediatric oral health outcomes. Ethnic identity was assessed using two measures: perceived importance of tribal identity and tribal language proficiency. We examined the association of baseline ethnic identity with baseline and longitudinal oral health measures.


At baseline, importance of tribal identity was significantly associated with several oral health beliefs, and one's locus of control measure (external-chance). Baseline scores on importance of tribal identity were also associated with one's oral heath belief (perceived severity), the same locus of control measure, and oral health knowledge and behavior over the three years of study follow up. Tribal language proficiency was not associated with any study measures at baseline, although it was associated with parental oral health status over the three years.


Ethnic identity was associated with a range of oral health constructs expected to influence American Indian children's oral health.

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