Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services--Health Services

Committee Director

Linday L. Rettie

Committee Member

Stacey Plichta

Committee Member

Colin Box

Committee Member

Clare Houseman

Committee Member

Cheryl Samuels


The purpose of this study was to test the explanatory power of The Health Belief Model with the added environmental condition of perceived humanistic attitude of a dental hygienist in its ability to predict individual's performance of oral disease prevention behaviors. A cross section survey of an intact group of 1,943 full time employees of Old Dominion University was conducted. The response rate was 52% (n = 1001). An exclusionary rule eliminated respondents who did not have a dental hygienist provide preventive services during dental visits. Seven hundred and fifty four were included in the study analyses. The study participants included 67% female, 69% White, 63% married with an average age of 45 (SD = 10.78). Classified employees represented 46%, faculty represented 37%, and administrative employees represented 16% of the study population.

Partial support for The Health Belief Model was found in predicting oral disease prevention behaviors (brushing, flossing, performing homecare, receiving recommended dental treatment, maintaining regular dental check-up, and visiting a dental provider within a year. Further, support was found for adding perceived humanistic attitude of dental hygienists as an environmental condition for predicting oral disease prevention behaviors of the employees.

Data analyses revealed that individuals who perceived that they were susceptible to oral disease were less likely to perform oral disease prevention behaviors. This finding was the opposite of what was expected based upon the precepts of The Health Belief Model. Perceived benefit was not found to be a strong predictor of performing oral disease prevention behaviors. While perceived seriousness, perceived lack of barriers, and perceived humanistic attitude of dental hygienists were found to be strong predictors of engaging in oral disease prevention behaviors.