• Article

Behavioral and socioeconomic correlates of dental problem experience and patterns of health care-seeking

Background. To recognize and better understand barriers to dental care, the authors studied behavioral and socioeconomic factors specific to low-income and minority populations that contribute to patterns of professional health care-seeking. Methods. A stratified random sample of 27,002 Maryland households participated in a cross-sectional telephone survey. The authors targeted respondents who were low-income non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black or Hispanic who had experienced a dental problem or injury during the previous 12 months, as well as similar people with higher incomes for comparison. A total of 94.8 percent (401 of 423) of eligible people completed the survey. Results. Logistic regression modeling (95 percent confidence interval) revealed that the respondents' race or ethnicity and sex were associated with the number of dental problems experienced during the previous 10 years, and that having a regular source of medical care and the type of dental problem experienced were associated with earlier health care-seeking. The first choice of treatment site (physician's office, emergency department or dentist's office) was associated with the respondents' income, pain level, number of problems experienced in the past 10 years and the degree to which their problem was a burden. Conclusions. The authors found that predisposing, enabling and need-based factors were associated with dental problem experience and patterns of professional health care service use. Practice Implications. Health care providers should recognize barriers to the receipt of dental care sometimes experienced by low-income and minority groups


Cohen, LA., Bonito, A., Eicheldinger, C., Manski, RJ., Macek, MD., Edwards, RR., & Khanna, N. (2011). Behavioral and socioeconomic correlates of dental problem experience and patterns of health care-seeking. Journal of the American Dental Association, 142(2), 137-149.