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Disparities in oral health-related quality of life in a population of Canadian children


David Locker, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, 124 Edward Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 1G6
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Abstract –  Objectives:  To assess socioeconomic disparities in the oral health-related quality of life in a group of Canadian children.

Methods:  Data were obtained as part of a study designed to assess the functional and psychosocial impact of traumatic dental injury. Clinical data were collected on a random sample of children during a school-based dental screening program that included measures of dental decay experience, treatment needs, dental trauma, fluorosis, and malocclusion. Children with dental trauma and a comparison group of trauma-free children were selected for follow-up. Their parents were mailed a questionnaire concerning the child's personal and family characteristics. Also enclosed was a questionnaire for the child that contained a short form of the Child Perceptions Questionnaire (CPQ) 11–14. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were undertaken to determine whether there were disparities in oral health-related quality of life according to household income.

Results:  Complete data were collected from 370 children. Mean CPQ11–14 scores showed a gradient across income categories with children from low income households having poorer oral health-related quality of life. Children from households containing only one adult also had higher scores than children living with two or more adults. In both linear and logistic regression analyses household income and family structure remained significant predictors of CPQ11–14 scores after controlling for oral disease variables. Further analyses suggested that oral disorders had little impact on the health-related quality of life of higher income children but a marked impact on lower income children. The highest mean CPQ11–14 scores were observed among low income children with the more severe levels of oral disease.

Conclusion:  The data indicate that in this group of children there were socioeconomic disparities in oral health-related quality of life. A potential explanation may be differences in psychological assets and psychosocial resources.

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