NIH Awards over $3.5 Million to Study Increasing Parent Oral Health Habits to Prevent Children’s Tooth Decay

Posted on: Tuesday, 10/03/2017

The BEhavioral EConomics for Oral health iNnovation (BEECON) trial (UH3DE025514), funded at over $3.5 million over 3 years, will test various incentives that promote caregiver behaviors to prevent caries in young children and evaluate cost-effectiveness of the intervention. The project will enroll underserved, low-income Hispanic/Latino families with children 0-5 years of age in Early Head Start and affiliated preschool and day care sites in Los Angeles County.

Principal Investigator Francisco Ramos-Gomez, DDS, MS, MPH, UCLA professor of pediatric dentistry has over 20 years of experience working in the community with low-income minority populations, predominantly Latinos, to prevent children’s oral disease and promote children’s oral health.

“The BEECON initiative provides an incredible opportunity to expand recent work with local community partners to improve the oral health of children at greatest risk,” said Dr. Ramos-Gomez.

Previous studies have shown that mere health education is insufficient to make a lasting impact on health behaviors. Despite growing evidence that small, cost-effective interventions leveraging theories and insights from behavioral economics can promote behavior change, this will be the first time they are applied to oral health interventions.

Following a two-year developmental phase and feasibility and acceptability pilot trial, this competitive 3-year award is one of four research cooperative agreements awarded nationally out of 10 original projects by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a component of the National Institutes of Health, aimed at eliminating inequities in access to care and improving the oral health of children. The three year awards support the projects comprising NIDCR’s Multidisciplinary and Collaborative Research Consortium to Reduce Oral Health Disparities in Children

The project is a transdisciplinary research effort comprised of UCSF and UCLA investigators. Other Principal Investigators are Stuart Gansky, DrPH, UCSF professor and Lee Hysan Chair of oral epidemiology, and James Kahn, MD, MPH, UCSF professor of global health economic sciences.