ResearchPublished 24 July 2019
Toothsome research brushes up dental services
A new paper in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand features research on the development, validation and field use of self-reporting oral health measures for children.
In the paper ‘Subjective oral health measures for use with children: New Zealand’s contribution to a burgeoning field’ published in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand researchers provide an overview of children’s self-reporting of oral health.
Oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) was introduced in 1988 and set off important research and conceptual work in self-reported oral health. The focus has largely been on development and validation, which represent how oral conditions impact people’s lives. Previously this work has mainly focused on adult measures.
Developing measures for children’s self-reporting poses challenges. International researchers obtained funding to convene a group of dental health services researchers, including University of Otago researchers Murray Thomson and John Broughton, to develop a child OHRQoL measure with a wide range of cultures and settings.
The Child Perceptions Questionnaire (CPQ) was the result. CPQ included a range of age brackets, but most work was concentrated on the 11–14 group. For the 11–14 measures, there were four subscales: oral symptoms, functional limitations, emotional well-being and social well-being.
The CPQ was used in different settings to understand OHRQoL. One instance was to see whether supervised tooth brushing would improve OHRQoL in Northland children. After the assessment, children in the intervention group showed great improvement in their OHRQoL, and the effect was strongest for Māori children.
Orthodontic treatment was also studied to determine its impact on adolescent OHRQoL, as most orthodontic work is done to improve appearance and function. Before this study, research was limited to records from dental schools; however, as most orthodontic work is provided outside of these schools, there is now ‘real-world’ observations of treatments in OHRQoL.
From the CPQs, improvements in OHRQoL scores did not become apparent until three months after orthodontic treatment was completed. The main benefits seen were in emotional and social well-being.
The work New Zealand researchers have conducted alongside international researchers has contributed to the development, validation and field use of self-report oral health scales, especially for child-focused measures. This has allowed dental health services in Aotearoa to become better informed.
The journal article paper ‘Subjective oral health measures for use with children: New Zealand’s contribution to a burgeoning field’ published in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand by Professor Murray Thomson from University of Otago is now available to read in full at Taylor & Francis Online.