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Understanding change in parental dental health behaviours following general anesthetic dental treatment Sharifzadeh-Amin, Maryam

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of parents whose young children had had a general anesthetic (GA) for dental treatment and to develop a model to describe and explain parental behaviour change following the GA experience. A grounded theory method was undertaken to investigate 1) parent's beliefs and behaviours that may place their child at risk to new caries following the GA experience, 2) parents' experience of their child's dental treatment under GA and 3) the factors affecting parental adoption and maintenance of dentally healthy behaviours. Twenty-six in-depth individual interviews were conducted with parents of pre-school aged children at various times after the GA, i.e. shortly after the GA and up to one year following the GA. Data were analysed with a grounded theory approach, to develop a model that was "grounded" in the data. A conceptual model was generated to explain the process of parental behaviour change. Social influences, family context, and parental strategies were identified as key categories. Cultural beliefs, actions of dental professionals, and media/advertising were barriers for parents to adopt healthy behaviours. Not all parents were receptive to social supports; cross-cultural differences were apparent. Overall, the GA dental experience had enough of an impact to immediately motivate parents to consider changing their behaviours. However, difficulty and only partial compliance in following recommendations were frequently mentioned. Although parental stretiges were influenceed by family context and social influences, the central position of parental strateiges in the model gradually emerged. Parents who took responsibility for their child's state of health felt guilt and were determined to develop strategies to overcome the barriers in applying healthy behaviours. Parents who had a high level of self-efficacy and were furthest along the stages of change continuum were likely able to engage in and maintain new healthy behaviours. Although an early, positive outcome of the GA was a reported improvement in dental health practices, the GA did not appear to affect long-term preventive behaviours for many parents. Parental strategies were recognized as the core category of the final model that influenced whether parents adopted dentally-healthy behaviours and maintained these behaviours over time.

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