Current knowledge, attitudes and beliefs on the issue of water fluoridation : a survey of the current knowledge, attitudes and beliefs on water fluoridation of the citizens and businesses served by the Onehunga Water Treatment Zone : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Master of Science (Nutritional Science) at Massey University

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Massey University
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The object of this study was to describe the current knowledge and beliefs on fluoridation of a community served by an unfluoridated water supply prior to the population being consulted on possible implementation of fluoridation by way of a resident's preference survey. Information was also sought on what sort of information the community wanted and the best way of providing it. The survey was carried out by telephone, using random numbers from the Onehunga Borough water zone provide by Telecom. For the residents, race, gender and age quotas were based on the required sample size fitting the profile population. Businesses were recruited randomly. A semi-structured questionnaire was used and comparisons were made among responses by ethnicity, age and marital status and between the residents and businesses. The research showed that there were appreciable gaps in the community's knowledge on fluoridation with important differences showing between ethnic groups and the younger and older age group. Younger persons and those who had never been married were less knowledgeable. It also found that the residents were more knowledgeable than businesses on this issue. Pacific people, Asians and others differed significantly from Europeans across most issues. Their lack of knowledge was the greatest. Pamphlets supplied by water-provider organisations or health professionals were the preferred methods of acquiring information on fluoridation. Doctors were preferred over dentists as sources of information, which suggests that dental health professionals need to take a more obvious role in public education on dental health and the role of fluoridation. Despite widespread ignorance concerning water fluoridation, the majority of those surveyed wanted a voice, via a referendum, in the decision making process. Health authorities were the favoured decision-makers on fluoridation implementation. This study showed that whilst there is a belief in the benefits of fluoridation within the community there is however a lack of knowledge and understanding especially amongst Pacific people and Asians and others and to a lesser extent amongst Maori and European on the issue of fluoridation. Important differences based on age are also demonstrated. Although there is widespread ignorance, people want a voice in the decision making process. Therefore in developing strategies and information to enable the population to acquire informed opinions on water fluoridation for their community, ethnic and age group differences need to be considered.
Water fluoridation, Fluoridated water, Onehunga water treatment