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Keywords:

  • demand;
  • dental services;
  • household income;
  • inequalities;
  • utilization

Abstract –   Objectives:  The aim of this study was to describe the effect of income on demand and utilization of dental services according to household income in the adult population.

Methods:  The data were collected using a questionnaire, which was sent to a random sample of Norwegians aged 20 years or older living at home, 1861 persons in total. Demand was measured according to whether the person had been to the dentist during the last year. Utilization was measured as expenditure for dental treatment for those who had been to the dentist during the last year. The independent variables were the respondents’ household income, age, gender, education, dental status and the mean fee for a dental consultation in the municipality. In the first stage, we carried out a logistic regression analysis of the log odds of having demanded dental services during the last year. In the second stage, we carried out a multiple regression analysis of expenditure for dental treatment for those who had been to the dentist during the last year.

Results:  Altogether, 80% of the respondents had been to the dentist during the last year. Demand during the last year varied most according to dental status. There was little difference between men and women. The results of the logistic regression showed that the probability of having been to the dentist was 0.82 for those with a household income of €25 000 and 0.85 for those with a household income of €100 000. Mean expenditure for dental treatment was €355. There was no statistically significant relationship between household income and expenditure for dental treatment.

Conclusions:  Differences in demand for dental services according to household income are small, and there are no differences in utilization according to income. The findings are interesting, because in a population in which people have to pay almost all the costs for dental treatment themselves, one would expect the income differences in demand and utilization to be greater.