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Inequalities in oral impacts and welfare regimes: analysis of 21 European countries

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Abstract

Objective

Very few studies have analysed the relationship between political factors and oral health inequalities, and only one study has compared the magnitude of inequalities in oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) across welfare state regimes. This study aimed to compare socioeconomic inequalities in oral impacts on daily life among 21 European countries with different welfare state regimes (Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, Bismarckian, Southern, and Eastern).

Methods

We analysed data from the Eurobarometer 72.3, a survey carried out in 2009 among adults in European countries. Inequalities in oral impacts by education, occupational social class and subjective social status (SSS) were estimated by means of age-standardized prevalence rates, odds ratios (ORs), the relative index of inequality (RII) and the slope index of inequality (SII).

Results

Educational inequalities in the form of social gradients were observed in all welfare regimes. The Scandinavian and Southern welfare regimes also showed gradients for all SEP measures. There were not significant differences in the magnitude of relative inequalities (RII) across welfare state regimes. Absolute educational inequalities were largest in the Anglo-Saxon welfare regime (SII = 17.57; 95% CI: 7.80–27.33) and smallest in the Bismarckian (SII = 3.32; 95% CI: −2.18 to 8.83).

Conclusions

A significant difference in the magnitude of inequalities across welfare regimes was found for absolute educational inequalities but not for relative inequalities. Welfare state regimes may influence the relationship between knowledge-related resources and oral impacts on daily life.

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