Health Policy

The Importance of Efficacy: Using the Extended Parallel Process Model to Examine Factors Related to Preschool-Age Children Enrolled in Medicaid Receiving Preventive Dental Visits

Askelson, N.M.; Chi, D.L.; Momany, E.T.; Kuthy, R.A.; Carter, K.D.; Field, K.; Damiano, P.C.


Early preventive dental visits are vital to the oral health of children. Yet many children, especially preschool-age children enrolled in Medicaid, do not receive early visits. This study attempts to uncover factors that can be used to encourage parents to seek preventive dental care for preschool-age children enrolled in Medicaid. The extended parallel process model was used as a theoretical framework for this research. This model suggests that people will act if the perceived threat (severity and susceptibility) is high enough and if efficacy levels (self-efficacy and response efficacy) are likewise high. Following Witte’s method of categorizing people’s perceptions and emotions into one of four categories based on levels of threat and efficacy, this article describes four groups (high threat/high efficacy, high threat/low efficacy, low threat/high efficacy, and low threat/ low efficacy) of parents and how they compare to each other. Using logistic regression to model if a child had a preventive visit, results indicate that parents with low threat/high efficacy and parents with high threat/high efficacy had approximately 2.5 times the odds of having a child with a preventive oral health visit compared to parents with low threat/low efficacy, when controlling for perceived oral health status, health literacy, and child’s age. The importance of efficacy needs to be incorporated in interventions aimed at increasing preventive dental visits for young children.