The project revolves around reducing the incidence of dental caries in African American children aged between seven and 11 years. The high prevalence of dental caries among African American children demonstrates the existing oral health inequalities in the United States (Brocklehurst, Morris, & Tickle, 2012). As such, it is important to develop specific policies, projects, and interventions targeted at African American children to address the oral health inequalities. This project aims to promote oral health behavior change in this group of the population with the view to reducing teeth decay by reinforcing good oral hygiene practices and appropriate dietary habits.
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Social Marketing Strategy
Imagery and threat appeals will be used to underscore the negative consequences associated with poor oral health behavior and unhealthy dietary habits. Available literature demonstrates that imagery is an effective social marketing strategy due to its capacity to instantly illustrate the causes of particular behaviors as well as their consequences (Brocklehurst et al., 2012). Additionally, the use of imagery will provide an enabling environment for the application of age- and cultural-specific threat appeals aimed at motivating the target audience to adopt healthy dental behaviors with the view to reducing the high incidence of dental caries. Available literature demonstrates that threat appeals can be communicated in terms of pictures or images that are specifically designed to scare the children by portraying the horrible things they may experience if they fail to comply with the projected messages (Panic & Cauberghe, 2014). The imagery and threat appeals will be communicated to the children in the form of easy-to-read posters and flyers. The school and home environments will be targeted for the distribution of the posters, while teachers and parents will be used to promote the oral health messages contained in the communication media. The targeted population will be encouraged to read the posters and flyers thrice per week to achieve information recall, which is important in encouraging behavior change. This campaign is expected to run for four weeks to ensure maximum coverage and optimal behavior modification among the targeted audience.
Parents and teachers will be asked to assess how the social marketing strategy has been able to increase the children’s knowledge of good hygiene practices and appropriate dietary habits. This will be done by asking the children to recall some of the information contained in the posters and show how the content can be applied in real-life contexts. Additionally, parents will be asked to assess the children on ongoing changes in specific behavioral objectives such as brushing frequency, intake of sugars, and consumption of healthy diets. This will be done by requesting the children to respond to questions on how their brushing and eating habits have been influenced by the information (imagery and threat appeals) contained in the age- and cultural-specific posters. Lastly, it is important to assess the incidence of dental carriers in the community to understand the effects of the campaign on population-level outcomes. Such an assessment should be undertaken six months after the implementation of the strategy to establish how the campaign has motivated and empowered the children to adopt the desired behavioral practices in dental hygiene and dietary habits. A low incidence of dental carries will indicate that the social marketing strategy was effective in reinforcing behavior change in the targeted population, while a high incidence level will demonstrate that the strategy failed to achieve its intended objectives.
Brocklehurst, P.R., Morris, P., & Tickle, M. (2012). Social marketing: An appropriate strategy to reduce oral health inequalities. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 50(2), 81-91.
Panic, K., & Cauberghe, V. (2014). Promoting dental hygiene to children: Comparing traditional and interactive media following threat appeals. Journal of Health Communication, 19(5), 561-576.