Assessing Health Literacy and Oral Health: Preliminary Results of a Multi-Site Investigation
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Type of Work10 pages
Citation of Original PublicationMacek, M. D., Atchison, K. A., Watson, M. R., Holtzman, J., Wells, W., Braun, B., . . . Richards, J. (2016). Assessing Health Literacy and Oral Health: Preliminary Results of a Multi-Site Investigation. Assessing Health Literacy and Oral Health: Preliminary Results of a Multi-Site Investigation, 76(4), 303-313. doi:10.1111/jphd.12156.
/Objectives/: To introduce a multi-site assessment of oral health literacy and to describe preliminary analyses of the relationships between health literacy and selected oral health outcomes within the context of a comprehensive conceptual model. /Methods/: Data for this analysis came from the Multi-Site Oral Health Literacy Research Study (MOHLRS), a federally-funded investigation of health literacy and oral health. MOHLRS consisted of a broad survey, including several health literacy assessments, and measures of attitudes, knowledge, and other factors. The survey was administered to 922 initial care-seeking adult patients presenting to university-based dental clinics in California and Maryland. For this descriptive analysis, confidence filling out forms, word recognition, and reading comprehension comprised the health literacy assessments. Dental visits, oral health functioning, and dental self-efficacy were the outcomes. /Results/: Overall, up to 21% of participants reported having difficulties with practical health literacy tasks. After controlling for sociodemographic confounders, no health literacy assessment was associated with dental visits or dental caries self-efficacy. However, confidence filling out forms and word recognition were each associated with oral health functioning and periodontal disease self-efficacy. /Conclusions/: Our analysis showed that dental school patients exhibit a range of health literacy abilities. It also revealed that the relationship between health literacy and oral health is not straightforward, depending on patient characteristics and the unique circumstances of the encounter. We anticipate future analyses of MOHLRS data will answer questions about the role that health literacy and various mediating factors play in explaining oral health disparities.
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