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Health Literacy and Parental Oral Health Knowledge, Beliefs, Behavior, and Status Among Parents of American Indian Newborns.



To examine the relationship between health literacy (HL) and parental oral health knowledge, beliefs, behavior, and self-reported oral health status (OHS) among parents of American Indian (AI) children.


This analysis used baseline data from a randomized controlled trial that tested an oral health intervention with parents of AI newborns. Participants were recruited in parent-child dyads (N = 579). Parents completed items assessing sociodemographic characteristics, HL, and parental oral health knowledge, beliefs, behavior, and self-reported OHS. We examined the correlation of HL with each oral health construct, controlling for parent age and income.


On average, parents felt quite confident in their HL skills, performed well on questions assessing parental oral health knowledge, and endorsed beliefs likely to encourage positive parental oral health behaviors (e.g., confidence that one can successfully engage in such behaviors). Parents with more limited HL had significantly less knowledge, perceived cavities to be less severe, perceived more barriers and fewer benefits to recommended oral health behaviors, were less confident they could engage in these behaviors, and were more likely to believe their children's oral health was under the control of the dentist or a matter of chance (P values < 0.001). Limited HL was not associated with behavior (P > 0.05) but was linked to worse self-reported OHS (P = 0.040).


HL was associated with parental oral health knowledge, beliefs, and self-reported OHS. Oral health education interventions targeting AI families should facilitate development of knowledge and positive oral health beliefs among parents with more limited HL skills.

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