Objectives: Regular (daily) dental flossing is recommended for preventing oral diseases, but adherence is unsatisfactory. Social cognitive theory (SCT) specifies determinants of dental flossing: Cognitions about risk, positive and negative outcome expectations and the perceived ability to perform behaviour predict motivation, which in turn predicts behaviour. Recent research suggests that motivation alone may not suffice to predict behaviour, and proposes if-then-planning. This study aims to predict flossing adherence from social cognitive variables and planning.
Material and Methods: Questionnaire data from 157 non-dental university students on flossing, SCT variables and planning were gathered at three measurement points over 6 weeks. Residual floss was used to validate behaviour self-reports.
Results: Social cognitive variables and planning correlated significantly with flossing at all times. Discriminant function analysis suggests that after controlling for Time 1 flossing, planning Time 2 (Wilk's lambda=0.77; p < 0.01) is more important in discriminating between adherent and non-adherent participants at Time 3 than Time 1 social cognitive measures. Regression analyses confirmed this result with planning as only predictor of flossing change (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: These results suggest targeting planning in interventions to increase compliance with flossing recommendations. Implications for such interventions are discussed.
- dental flossing
- health behaviour theories
- oral self-care
- IMPLEMENTATION INTENTIONS
- OUTCOME EXPECTANCY
- REASONED ACTION