Clustering of Oral and General Risk Behaviours

Identifying population groups with behavioural risk factors for oral and general health has implications for an integrated approach to health promotion. While it is widely recognised that risk behaviours for general health tend to cluster among individuals, it is less clear whether risk behaviours for oral health co-occur among these same individuals.

OBJECTIVES: The objectives were to examine whether dental and general risk behaviours cluster among individuals and to identify population groups with a shared risk profile.

METHODS: Self-reported data were obtained from a national stratified random sample of adults aged 18+ who participated in the 2002 National Dental Telephone Interview Survey and completed a subsequent mailed questionnaire (n=3,132). Data were weighted to represent a simple random sample of Australian adults and analysis was limited to dentate adults.

RESULTS: Four dental behaviours (toothbrushing frequency, interdental cleaning, exposure to non-milk extrinsic sugars, usual reason for a dental visit) and five general health behaviours (smoking, alcohol days, number of standard drinks consumed, physical activity, Body Mass Index) were dichotomised. K-means cluster analysis identified two readily interpretable groups who differed significantly on each behaviour apart from alcohol days (ANOVA; p<0.05). A significant relationship emerged between cluster memberships. Over-represented in the risk behaviour group (40.8% of the sample) were males, young adults, those who did not live in a major city, adults who rented their housing and those adults with lower levels of education and household income (Chi square; p<0.05).

CONCLUSION: The interrelatedness of oral and general risk behaviours and their sociodemographic associations supports the tailoring of integrated oral and general health promotion messages and services to targeted population groups. Supported by the Australian Department of Health and Ageing.

Spencer JA, Sanders AE, Stewart JF

Presented at the 82nd General Session and Exhibition of the IADR, 10-13 March 2004, Hawaii, USA

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