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Psychophysiological Reactions of Internet Users Exposed to Fluoride Information and Disinformation: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

JMIR Res Protoc. 2022 Jun 16;11(6):e39133. doi: 10.2196/39133.


BACKGROUND: False messages on the internet continually propagate possible adverse effects of fluoridated oral care products and water, despite their essential role in preventing and controlling dental caries.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to evaluate the patterns of psychophysiological reactions of adults after the consumption of internet-based fluoride-related information and disinformation.

METHODS: A 2-armed, single-blinded, parallel, and randomized controlled trial will be conducted with 58 parents or caregivers of children who attend the Clinics of Pediatric Dentistry at the Bauru School of Dentistry, considering an attrition of 10% and a significance level of 5%. The participants will be randomized into test and intervention groups, being respectively exposed to fluoride-related information and disinformation presented on a computer with simultaneous monitoring of their psychophysiological reactions, including analysis of their heart rates (HRs) and 7 facial features (mouth outer, mouth corner, eye area, eyebrow activity, face area, face motion, and facial center of mass). Then, participants will respond to questions about the utility and truthfulness of content, their emotional state after the experiment, eHealth literacy, oral health knowledge, and socioeconomic characteristics. The Shapiro-Wilk and Levene tests will be used to determine the normality and homogeneity of the data, which could lead to further statistical analyses for elucidating significant differences between groups, using parametric (Student t test) or nonparametric (Mann-Whitney U test) analyses. Moreover, multiple logistic regression models will be developed to evaluate the association of distinct variables with the psychophysiological aspects. Only factors with significant Wald statistics in the simple analysis will be included in the multiple models (P<.2). Furthermore, receiver operating characteristic curve analysis will be performed to determine the accuracy of the remote HR with respect to the measured HR. For all analyses, P<.05 will be considered significant.

RESULTS: From June 2022, parents and caregivers who frequent the Clinics of Pediatric Dentistry at the Bauru School of Dentistry will be invited to participate in the study and will be randomized into 1 of the 2 groups (control or intervention). Data collection is expected to be completed in December 2023. Subsequently, the authors will analyze the data and publish the findings of the clinical trial by June 2024.

CONCLUSIONS: This randomized controlled trial aims to elucidate differences between psychophysiological patterns of adults exposed to true or false oral health content. This evidence may support the development of further studies and digital strategies, such as neural network models to automatically detect disinformation available on the internet.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Brazilian Clinical Trials Registry (RBR-7q4ymr2) U1111-1263-8227;


PMID:35708767 | DOI:10.2196/39133

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