Management of plaque in people experiencing homelessness using 'peer education': a pilot study
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Introduction People who experience homelessness have poor oral health and limited access to dental services. Aim To examine whether ‘peer education’ could yield improved plaque management among people experiencing homelessness. Methods A quasi-experimental, one-group pre-test-post-test study was conducted, with follow-up at one and two months. Participants were living in temporary accommodation in Plymouth, UK. Plaque levels were assessed using the simplifed oral hygiene index. A questionnaire and the oral health impact profle (OHIP-14) were administered. Patient satisfaction and barriers to dental care were explored by interviews. Results The baseline sample included 24 people with a mean age of 36.88 ± 10.26 years. The mean OHIP-14 score was 25.08 ± 19.56; fnding it uncomfortable to eat and being embarrassed attracted the highest values (2.46 ± 1.53 and 2.33 ± 1.63, respectively). Plaque levels decreased by month one and month two, though the changes were not statistically signifcant. Positive changes in confdence in toothbrushing at month two were identifed (p = 0.01). Conclusion Experiencing pain and the opportunity to access treatment were key drivers of study participation. The study indicated that it is feasible to conduct oral health promotion projects for people in temporary accommodation. Adequately powered studies examining the impact of peer education on improving homeless people’s oral health are warranted.
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