Job characteristics and the subjective oral health of Australian workers

The way in which work is structured and organised is associated with the health and well-being of workers.

OBJECTIVES: To examine the associations between hours worked, job security, skill maintenance and work and home interference and subjective oral health; and to compare findings for different occupational groups.

METHODS: Data were collected in 1999 from a random stratified sample of households in all Australian States and Territories using a telephone interview and a questionnaire survey. Subjective oral health was evaluated with the short form Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP-14), which assesses the adverse impact of oral conditions on quality of life.

RESULTS: Data were obtained for 2,347 dentate adults in the workforce. In the 12 months preceding the survey, 51.9% had experienced oral pain and 31.0% reported psychological discomfort from dental problems. Males, young adults, Australian-born workers, and those in upper-white collar occupations reported lower mean OHIP-14 scores (ANOVA p < 0.001). Having controlled for the effects sex, age, country of birth and socioeconomic factors in a linear multiple regression analysis, hours worked, skill maintenance and work and home interference were significantly associated with OHIP-14 scores for all workers. While part-time work was associated with higher OHIP-14 among upper white-collar workers, working >40 hours a week was associated with higher OHIP-14 scores for other workers.

CONCLUSIONS: Aspects of the work environment are associated with the subjective oral health of workers. Because these contexts are subject to only limited control by individual workers, their influence is a public health issue.

Sanders AE, Spencer AJ

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2004 Jun;28(3):259-66.

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