Study investigates television-based dental health promotion in waiting rooms
LONDON, UK: Rather than just sitting in the waiting room flipping through magazines, patients may be watching specially targeted health messages on the television soon. Investigating whether audiovisual approaches are more effective in promoting patients’ knowledge and intentions to seek dental services than traditional methods, such as noticeboards and posters, a study at Imperial College London has found that television-based health promotion was an effective medium for delivering educational content, especially in certain populations and age groups.
The survey was carried out in 49 general practices in the London Borough of Brent that had a television in the waiting area and showed the Life Channel—a series of six brief health promotion advertisements. Topics included dental health, smoking cessation, chlamydia infection, contraception, HIV, hepatitis and influenza. A full cycle of all of the adverts, interspersed with commercial advertising, lasted about 10 minutes. The dental health advert lasted approximately 80 seconds and stated that everyone should visit a dentist at least every two years. Moreover, it gave details on how to contact both NHS and emergency dentists.
In total, 2,345 patients participated in the survey, which included 16 questions about the Life Channel, including its noticeability, acceptability, and whether it had changed knowledge and intentions about accessing dental and smoking cessation services. In addition, demographic and health data of the participants was collected.
The results showed that the Life Channel videos were effective in educating patients on dental health services. Among the 1,088 patients who did not know how to contact an NHS dentist prior to the survey and the 1,247 patients who did not know how to contact an emergency dentist prior to the survey, 48.0 per cent and 35.1 per cent, respectively, attributed the Life Channel to educating them in this regard.
Concerning the need for regular dental visits, 15.2 per cent of the group of patients who had no intention to contact a dentist prior to the survey (1,605 patients) reported that the dental health advert created such an intention. According to the researchers, this is especially important in light of the 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey finding that only 58 per cent of UK adults had sought an NHS dental appointment in the last three years.
Considering the results of the study, the researchers concluded that television-based health promotion services empowered patients to make more informed choices related to health care.
In order to exploit the potential of this medium, they recommended that further research assess the effectiveness of different health message content, including messages in different languages, and explore how television-based health promotion could be maximised to appeal to diverse population and age groups.
The study, titled “Television-based health promotion in general practice waiting rooms in London: A cross-sectional study evaluating patients’ knowledge and intentions to access dental services”, was published online on 20 July in the BMC Oral Health journal.