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Oral health research with children


Zoe Marshman, Department of Oral Health and Development, School of Clinical Dentistry, Sheffield S10 2TA, UK. E-mail:


Background.  There has been a shift towards research with children and the adoption of the concept of child-centred research. However, the majority of oral health research is conducted on children, rather than with them.

Objective.  This study aimed to provide an overview of contemporary approaches to research with children.

Considerations.  The methodological considerations of such research include: the power relationship between the adult researcher and the child participant, with important factors of language use, the setting for the research, appropriate analysis, and quality of the data; ethical factors such as the purpose and risks of the research, confidentiality, recruitment, funding, information to children and parents, consent, and dissemination; and appropriate methods. Methods suitable for oral health research with children include quantitative techniques such as questionnaires and qualitative approaches including interviews individually or in groups and participatory techniques such as time-lines/life grids, drawings, and vignettes.

Conclusion.  There is considerable scope to access children's perspectives of their oral health and care through actively involving them in research. To conduct such research, however, requires training or collaboration with colleagues from other disciplines.