Level of oral health impacts among patients participating in PEARL: a dental practice-based research network


Maria T. Botello-Harbaum, The EMMES Corporation, 401 N Washington Street, 7th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850, USA

Tel.: 301 251 1161 (ext. 2748)

Fax: 301 251 1355

e-mail: mbotello-harbaum@emmes.com



To determine whether participants of a dental practice–based research network (PBRN) differ in their level of oral health impact as measured by the Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP) questionnaire.


A total of 2410 patients contributed 2432 OHIP measurements (median age = 43 years; interquartile range = 28) were enrolled in four dental studies. All participants completed the Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP-14) during a baseline visit. The main outcome of this study was the level of oral health impact, defined as follows: no impact (‘Never’ reported on all items); low (‘Occasionally’ or ‘Hardly ever’ as the greatest frequency score reported on any item); and high (‘Fairly often’ or ‘Very often’ as the greatest frequency reported on any item). Polychotomous logistic regression was used to develop a predictive model for the level of oral health impact considering the following predictors: patient's age, gender, race, practice location, type of dentist, and number of years the enrolling dentist has been practicing.


A high level of oral health impacts was reported in 8% of the sample; almost a third (29%) of the sample reported a low level of impacts, and 63% had no oral health impacts. The prevalence of impacts differed significantly across protocols (P < 0.001). Women were more likely to be in the high oral impact group than in the no impact group compared to men (OR = 1.46; 95% CI = 1.06–1.99). African Americans were more likely to report high oral impacts when compared to other racial/ethnic groups (OR = 2.11; 95% CI = 1.26–3.55). Protective effects for being in the high or in the low-impact groups were observed among patients enrolled by a solo practice (P < 0.001) or by more experienced dentists (P = 0.01). A small but highly significant statistical association was obtained for patient age (P < 0.001). In the multivariate model, patient's age, practice size, and gender were found to jointly be significant predictors of oral health impact level.


Patients' subjective report of oral health impact in the clinical setting is of importance for their health. In the context of a dental PBRN, the report of oral health–related quality of life (OHRQoL) was different across four dental studies. The observed findings validate the differential impact that oral health has on the patients' perception of OHRQoL particularly among specific groups. Similar investigations to elucidate the factors associated with patient's report of quality of life are warranted.