Pilot Project 3

Pilot PI: Dr. Maria Dolce

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Title: Promoting Family-Centered Self-Management of Oral Health and Chronic Conditions

Summary:

Dr. Dolce’s study Promoting Family-Centered Self-Management of Oral Health and Chronic Conditions will engage mid-life adults with chronic conditions and their family members as active partners in the identification and prioritization of risk and protective factors (e.g., social, behavioral, environmental, educational) influencing oral health promotion and disease prevention during mid-life. The results of the study will reveal which of the factors, or combination of factors, will be prioritized as the focus of a novel, theory- and evidence-based family-centered self-management intervention, which will be enabled by the use of innovative technologies, such as sensors on toothbrushes; as well as tailored, mobile smartphone assessments, reminders, and information about evidence-based oral health promotion and disease prevention strategies

Abstract:

There is growing evidence that an association exists between oral health and chronic health conditions.  Poor oral health may adversely affect chronic disease management, and chronic conditions may exacerbate oral health. Family-centered self-management, the purposeful incorporation of health-related behaviors into an individual’s daily functioning and integration of family members as partners in care, has the potential to improve oral health and overall wellness.  The purpose of the pilot study is to explore family-centered self-management of oral health for mid-life adults living with chronic conditions.  Specific aims of the study are to: 1) determine risk and protective factors during mid-life that influence oral health promotion and oral disease prevention; and 2) design a novel, theory- and evidence-based intervention to promote family-centered self-management of oral health.  The intervention will employ an innovative, mobile health coaching system which includes the use of home sensor data to infer patient state and to provide tailored reminders and feedback on users’ adherence to health behavior goals. The dynamic user model in the coaching system encodes behavior change variables such as motivation, barriers and stages of change. A community-based participatory research approach coupled with mini-focus group interviews will engage mid-life adults (aged 50 to 64 years) living with at least one chronic condition and their family member (N = 16-20) in designing meaningful features, protocols, and interfaces of an oral health coaching module. The results of the study will reveal which of the risk and protective factors, or combination of factors, will be prioritized as the focus of the family-centered self-management intervention.  Study findings will generate initial evidence on acceptability and usability of the intervention in promoting family-centered self-management of oral health for mid-life adults, including monitoring oral health status, promoting oral health behavioral modifications, and accessing oral health information.

Dr. Dolce directs the Innovations in Oral Health initiative at Northeastern University.