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ARRA Investments in Behavioral and Social Sciences for Oral and Craniofacial Health

Public Health Burden
Behavioral and social factors can have major influences on oral and craniofacial health and thus on overall health. Dentists, dental hygienists, and other oral health professionals often have the opportunity to identify and perhaps intervene in behaviors and conditions, such as poor nutrition, smoking, and alcohol abuse, which may be detrimental to oral health. Behavioral and Social Science research includes studies that develop and test interventions to improve oral and craniofacial health at the individual, group, organization, and population levels.

Behavioral Interventions to Improve Oral Health Behavior
ARRA funds made it possible to support four research grants that will equip dental clinics and dental practitioners with evidence-based tools to address health behaviors that are highly relevant to oral health, especially tobacco use and problematic alcohol use, but which have traditionally been viewed as too complex to address in the dental clinic. These four projects tackle different components of the challenge:
  • One study tests the efficacy of a brief, computer-based intervention for adolescent users of tobacco and alcohol.1
  • Electronic dental records may be useful tools in improving oral health behavior by linking the provision of information to patients with a relevant dental procedure, such as screening for oral cancer.  The topic of this study is a computerized approach to tobacco and alcohol intervention in dental settings that minimizes the need for additional training or specialty care on-site.2
  • To examine factors relevant to health service delivery, an ARRA study identifies the characteristics of dental settings and providers that are barriers or facilitators of adopting evidence-based interventions for tobacco and problem alcohol use.3
  • In a pilot study, investigators developed a web-based training program to teach dentists and hygienists about identifying and preventing eating disorders. ARRA funds support the adaptation of the training program for use in academic training programs of dentists and hygienists.4

  1. 1RC1DE020699-01 -- Dental and medical office iMET to reduce teen tobacco, alcohol, and drug use -- Knight, John R -- (MA)
  2. 1RC1DE020295-01 -- Computer-Assisted Guidance for Tobacco Dependence Interventions in Dental Offices -- Rindal, D Brad -- (MN)
  3. 1RC1DE020563-01 -- Adoption Fidelity and Effectiveness of Alcohol SBIRT in Dental Practice -- Neff, James Alan -- (VA)
  4. 1RC1DE020274-01 -- Adapting a web-based eating disorder program for oral health training -- Debate, Rita D -- (FL)

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