Oral Health: Group Education

Background on Group Education


expandWhat are group education strategies?

collapseWhat are group education strategies?

  • Through group education interventions, trained oral health education instructors or facilitators (e.g., dental hygienists, health educators) provide information and resources as part of group interactions to increase knowledge, skills, and support related to preventing oral diseases and illnesses (e.g., cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer).
  • Group education interventions may include presentations as well as individual or group activities that occur in classrooms (e.g., schools, colleges or universities), community centers, churches, dental care facilities, worksites, and other desired locations. Guided by a detailed curriculum, these interventions can:
    • highlight the association between oral health and other health outcomes (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, stroke, HIV/AIDS, pre-term or low-weight births, osteoporosis),
    • promote behavioral change for specific risk factors (e.g., brushing teeth, using fluoride, flossing, visiting oral health professionals regularly, avoiding tobacco, minimizing use of sugar and alcohol, getting oral cancer screening, and using protective head and mouth gear during athletic events),
    • improve knowledge and skills related to dental care habits (e.g., how often to use fluoride, locations of dental care facilities, proper brushing and flossing techniques) and challenges with making lifestyle changes (e.g., reduce sugar and alcohol consumption, eliminate tobacco use, increase use of protective gear for the head and mouth during athletic events), and
    • influence social support or group norms for dental care habits.

expandHow does group education impact oral health related behaviors?

collapseHow does group education impact oral health related behaviors?

  • For many individuals, the group is a natural setting. People are often taught in groups, live in groups and play in groups. Social interaction can be a key aspect of the developmental process as individuals learn by observing others and the results of their actions.
  • Group education interventions can be most effective if they take into consideration both individual characteristics (e.g., knowledge, skills) and group circumstances (e.g., social norms, peer pressure). For example, it may be more helpful to have different group members talk about how oral health care habits have helped them to feel a greater sense of control over their oral health and appearance, as opposed to simply describing the relationship between oral health care habits and oral health.

expandHow can I use group education strategies in my oral health intervention?

collapseHow can I use group education strategies in my oral health intervention?

  • Group education interventions may be incorporated into existing education interventions (e.g., health education classes in schools, health promotion activities at a senior living facility) or held independently. Similar to individual education and campaigns and promotions, these interventions can be designed to meet the needs of general audiences or specific groups (e.g., “targeted messages”).  For example, group education interventions can address the special needs of populations who are at risk for oral diseases and illnesses (e.g., those with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, or osteoporosis), those who have behaviors that negatively affect oral health (e.g., high sugar or alcohol consumption, tobacco use), or those of a particular socio-demographic group that is at higher risk (e.g., older adults, children, those in poverty).

expandWhat type of group education is best for my oral health intervention?

collapseWhat type of group education is best for my oral health intervention?

  • There are many different kinds of group interactions that serve various purposes:
    • Groups set up primarily for prevention of oral diseases and illnesses (i.e., education or skills training to encourage oral health care habits such as brushing, flossing, and using fluoride).
    • Groups concerned with how individuals interact with oral health professionals and related dental fears.
    • Groups set up for specific oral health conditions and their improvement (e.g., cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, or dentures).
    • Groups related to general life adjustments, self-management, and lifestyle (i.e., education or skills training to increase individual’s capacity to incorporate proper oral health care habits as part of their daily routines).
    • Groups with other quality of life concerns such as improved appearance and social acceptability.

expandWith whom do I need to work to develop a group education strategy for my oral health intervention?

collapseWith whom do I need to work to develop a group education strategy for my oral health intervention?

  • To develop your group education interventions, you will need to work with experienced health educators.  Other useful partners may include senior centers/independent living facilities, community centers, community organizations, coalitions, schools, worksites, health departments, dental clinics, researchers, community members, and community leaders.

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