According to the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey, 25 percent of US adults are functionally illiterate. Because written health information is frequently provided at above the tenth grade level, health messages are not reaching low literacy patients jeopardizing their health status. Low literacy has been found by researchers to have a detrimental effect on general health and the use of medical services. Evidence from research in medical settings consistently highlights the importance of comprehension and literacy for patient compliance and increased positive health outcomes. Although much is known about medical health literacy, there are no studies that have systematically studied oral health literacy. The purpose of this current application is to examine how a low dental literacy population interprets dental health prevention information, navigates the dental health system and whether participation in a large comprehensive public health program (WIC) can be effective in improving this process for pregnant women and their children and reduce health disparities. Specifically, we will: 1) Determine the dental health literacy rates among a low income, high risk population, 2) Examine the role of the Women, Infant, and Children's Program in understanding preventive dental health information such as consent forms, oral hygiene instructions and compliance to fluoride instructions among a low income/low dental health literacy population 3) Examine the role of the Women, Infant, and Children's Program in navigating the .dental health care system among a low income/low dental literacy population including compliance for dental appointments and appropriate use and 4) Evaluate the effects of the Women, Infant, and Children's Program on cumulative treatment and costs of dental services provided by Medicaid as well as oral health related quality of life in a population with low dental health literacy.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Research Project (R01)
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Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-B (50))
Program Officer
Nowjack-Raymer, Ruth
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Schools of Dentistry
Chapel Hill
United States
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