Oral health literacy levels among a low-income WIC population

Authors

  • Jessica Y. Lee DDS, MPH, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
    2. Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
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  • Kimon Divaris DDS,

    1. Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
    2. Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
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  • A. Diane Baker MBA,

    1. Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
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  • R. Gary Rozier DDS, MPH,

    1. Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
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  • Shoou-Yih D. Lee PhD,

    1. Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
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  • William F. Vann Jr DMD, PhD

    1. Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
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  • Disclosures: None of the authors have any financial interest related to the article.

  • Disclaimers: The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • The COHL Project is supported by a grant from the NIDCR Grant# RO1DE018045.

Jessica Y. Lee DDS, MPH, PhD, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. Tel.: 919-966-2739; Fax 919-966-7992. Email: leej@dentistry.unc.edu <mailto:leej@dentistry.unc.edu>. Jessica Lee is with the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, and the Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. Kimon Divaris is with the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, and the Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. A. Diane Baker and William F. Vann Jr. are with the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. A. Diane Baker and William F. Vann, Jr. are with Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. Gary Rozier and Shoou-Yih Lee are with the Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. R. Gary Rozier is with the Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. Shoou-Yih D. Lee is with the Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Abstract

Objectives: To determine oral health literacy (OHL) levels and explore potential racial differences in a low-income population.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of caregiver/child dyads that completed a structured 30-minute in-person interview conducted by two trained interviewers in seven counties in North Carolina. Sociodemographic, OHL, and dental health-related data were collected. OHL was measured with a dental word recognition test [Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Dentistry (REALD-30)]. Descriptive, bivariate, and multivariate methods were used to examine the distribution of OHL and explore racial differences.

Results: Of 1,658 eligible subjects, 1,405 (85 percent) participated and completed the interviews. The analytic sample (N = 1,280) had mean age 26.5 (standard deviation = 6.9) years with 60 percent having a high school degree or less. OHL varied between racial groups as follows: Whites – mean score = 17.4 (SE = 0.2); African-American (AA) – mean score = 15.3 [standard error (SE) = 0.2]; American Indian (AI) – mean score = 13.7 (SE = 0.3). Multiple linear regression revealed that after controlling for education, county of residence, age, and Hispanic ethnicity, Whites had 2.0 points (95 percent CI = 1.4, 2.6) higher adjusted REALD-30 score versus AA and AI.

Conclusions: Differences in OHL levels between racial groups persisted after adjusting for education and sociodemographic characteristics.

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