Journal Articles

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Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications


BACKGROUND: The top two oral diseases (tooth decay and gum disease) are preventable, yet dental caries is the most common childhood disease with 68% of children entering kindergarten having tooth decay. CATCH Healthy Smiles is a coordinated school health program to prevent cavities for students in kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade, and is based on the framework of Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH), an evidence-based coordinated school health program. CATCH has undergone several cluster-randomized controlled trials (CRCT) demonstrating sustainable long-term effectiveness in incorporating the factors surrounding children, in improving eating and physical activity behaviors, and reductions in obesity prevalence among low-income, ethnically diverse children. The aim of this paper is to describe the design of the CATCH Healthy Smiles CRCT to determine the effectiveness of an oral health school-based behavioral intervention in reducing incidence of dental caries among children.

METHODS: In this CRCT, 30 schools serving low-income, ethnically-diverse children in greater Houston area are recruited and randomized into intervention and comparison groups. From which, 1020 kindergarten children (n = 510 children from 15 schools for each group) will be recruited and followed through 2nd grade. The intervention consists of four components (classroom curriculum, toothbrushing routine, family outreach, and schoolwide coordinated activities) will be implemented for three years in the intervention schools, whereas the control schools will be offered free trainings and materials to implement a sun safety curriculum in the meantime. Outcome evaluation will be conducted at four time points throughout the study period, each consists of three components: dental assessment, child anthropometric measures, and parent survey. The dental assessment will use International Caries Detection and Assessment System (ICDAS) to measures the primary outcome of this study: incidence of dental caries in primary teeth as measured at the tooth surface level (dfs). The parent self-report survey measures secondary outcomes of this study, such as oral health related behavioral and psychosocial factors. A modified crude caries increment (mCCI) will be used to calculate the primary outcome of the CATCH Healthy Smiles CRCT, and a two-tailed test of the null hypothesis will be conducted to evaluate the intervention effect, while considering between- and within-cluster variances through computing the weighted-average of the mCCI ratios by cluster.

CONCLUSION: If found to be effective, a platform for scalability, sustainability and dissemination of CATCH already exists, and opens a new line of research in school oral health.



Caries prevention, Elementary school children, Health promotion, Oral health related quality of life, Program design, School-based intervention program



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