Objectives: Prisoners have worse oral health and greater unmet dental treatment needs than the general population. However, little is known about the impact of the mouth, or attitudes such as dental indifference and consequent patterns of dental service use in this disadvantaged group. The aim was to determine whether dental indifference was associated with the oral health-related quality of life (OHQoL) of prisoners using Andersen's behavioural model of service utilization as the theoretical framework. Methods: The sample was male prisoners aged 20-35 years attending three prisons in the north of England. Participants took part in interviews and oral examinations. The variables were selected to populate Andersen's model including: predisposing characteristics (socioeconomic status), enabling resources (dental indifference and dental attendance patterns before prison), perceived need (perceived treatment need, satisfaction with appearance of teeth, global rating of oral health), evaluated need (number of decayed teeth), health behaviours (use of dental services while in prison) and health outcomes (OHQoL). Structural equation modelling was used to estimate direct and indirect pathways between variables. Results: Of the 700 men approached, 659 completed the interview and clinical examination. Worse OHQoL was associated with less dental indifference (i.e. greater interest in oral health), previous regular use of dental services, perceived need for treatment and use of prison dental services. The number of decayed teeth and predisposing factors such as qualifications and employment did not predict OHQoL. Conclusions: Dental indifference was related to the OHQoL of prisoners in addition to previous regular use of dental services, a perceived need for treatment and use of dental services while in prison. Dental services in prisons might incorporate methods to address dental indifference in their attempts to improve oral health. The findings also have general implications for the assessment of population oral health needs.
- psychosocial aspects of oral health
- quality of life