'English leaflets are not meant for me': A qualitative approach to explore oral health literacy in Chinese mothers in Southwestern Sydney, Australia

Amit Arora, Mandy Nm Liu, Rainbow Chan, Eli Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives The aim of this study was to record the views of Chinese mothers living in southwestern Sydney on the value of commonly used dental health education materials that gave behavioural advice on looking after the oral health of young children. Methods This qualitative study was nested within a large cohort study in south-western Sydney. Chinese-speaking mothers (n = 27) with young children were approached for a face-to-face, semi-structured interview at their home. Two dental leaflets in English that gave behavioural advice on monitoring young children's oral health were sent to each mother prior to interview. On the day of the interview, mothers were also given translated versions of the leaflets for comparison. Interviews were recorded and subsequently transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analysed by thematic coding. Results Mothers reported that the leaflets were not tailored to match the different levels of English literacy within the Chinese community, and participants favoured health information material written in their first language with the use of illustrations. However, translations had to take account of the Chinese culture, as some of the advice in the leaflets presented did not reflect Chinese family values. Mothers also felt that the information should be more specific to provide a better understanding of the rationale for changing or implementing a different behaviour. Conclusions Dental health information literature for Chinese people should not be translated directly from those intended for an English-speaking audience, but should reflect Chinese culture-specific advice such as examples of the type and amount of foods to be given during early years of life. Supportive illustrations were also preferred.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)532-541
Number of pages10
JournalCommunity dentistry and oral epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • child
  • dental caries
  • health literacy
  • oral health
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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