Translating Dental Flossing Intentions into Behavior: a Longitudinal Investigation of the Mediating Effect of Planning and Self-Efficacy on Young Adults

  • Kyra Hamilton
  • Mikaela Bonham
  • Jason Bishara
  • Jeroen Kroon
  • Ralf Schwarzer



Although poor oral hygiene practices can have serious health consequences, a large number of adults brush or floss their teeth less than the recommended time or not at all. This study examined the mediating effect of two key self-regulatory processes, self-efficacy and planning, as the mechanisms that translate dental flossing intentions into behavior.


Participants (N = 629) comprised young adults attending a major university in Queensland, Australia. A longitudinal design guided by sound theory was adopted to investigate the sequential mediation chain for the effect of dental flossing intentions (time 1) on behavior (time 3) via self-efficacy and planning (time 2).


A latent variable structural equation model with standardized parameter estimates revealed the model was a good fit to the data. Controlling for baseline flossing, the effect of intentions on behavior was mediated via self-efficacy and planning, with 64 % of the flossing variance accounted for by this set of predictors. Controlling for age and sex did not change the results.


The results extend previous research to further elucidate the mechanisms that help to translate oral hygiene intentions into behavior and make a significant contribution to the cumulative empirical evidence about self-regulatory components in health behavior change.


Self-efficacy Planning Dental flossing Oral hygiene 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Griffith University, Menzies Health Institute QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Freie UniversitätBerlinGermany

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