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Journal of Dental Hygiene








Purpose: The purpose of this systematic review was to describe the oral health literacy (OHL) inventories that have been used among caregivers of preschool-aged children.

Methods: Four databases were searched (CINAHL, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Dentistry & Oral Sciences Source, PubMed), to identify peer-reviewed, full-text studies published in English on the oral health literacy among caregivers of preschool-aged children from 2010-2021. All studies were assessed for eligibility using PRISMA guidelines. Inclusion criteria were experimental, non-experimental, or mixed methods peer-reviewed studies, conducted in the United States. Eligible studies were independently evaluated using the Effective Public Health Practice Project's Quality Assessment Tool.

Results: The initial search yielded 182 articles; 11 studies met the inclusion criteria after screening: observational (n=8), experimental (n=2), and quasi-experimental (n=1). Main outcome measures included: oral health literacy, oral health knowledge, oral health attitudes and behaviors, child oral health status (COHS), child oral health-related quality of life (C-OHRQoL), and child oral health-related expenditures. However, this review focused only on caregivers' OHL and the associated measurements for this variable. Most studies utilized the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Dentistry (REALD-30); the remainder used the Basic Research Factors Questionnaire (BRFQ), the Oral Health Literacy Inventory for Parents (OH-LIP), or self-designed survey questions.

Conclusions: Few studies met the inclusion criteria. There was an uneven distribution of studies using different inventories for the measurement of oral health literacy limiting the generalizability of the findings to low-income and minority groups. Most caregiver OHL studies focused on dental word recognition, only a few measured knowledge and comprehension. More comprehensive inventories could be designed to evaluate caregivers' knowledge and understanding of dental terms.


© 2022 American Dental Hygienists Association.

Included with the kind written permission of the copyright holder.

Original Publication Citation

Sullivan, M. L., Claiborne, D. M., & Shuman, D. (2022). Oral health literacy inventories for caregivers of preschool-aged children: A systematic review. Journal of Dental Hygiene, 96(6), 34-42.


0000-0001-6324-9856 (Claiborne)