Clustering of risk behaviours for oral and general health

While it is 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: To describe the distribution of health-relevant behaviours in a population sample, to examine whether oral 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 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 oral health behaviours (toothbrushing frequency, interdental cleaning, exposure to non-milk extrinsic sugars, usual reason for a dental visit) and four general health behaviours (smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, Body Mass Index) were dichotomised. K-means cluster analysis identified two readily interpretable groups that differed significantly on each behaviour apart from alcohol consumption (ANOVA; p = 0.77). A significant relationship emerged between cluster memberships and sociodemographic characteristics. Over-represented in the risk behaviour group (40.7% of the sample) were males, young adults, Australian born, 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.

Sanders AE, Spencer AJ, Stewart JF.

Community Dent Health. 2005 Sep;22(3):133-40.

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