Knowledge and behaviours related to oral health among underserved older adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: To examine the mouth and body knowledge, beliefs and behaviours of Dominican, Puerto Rican and African American older adults, and their relationships to oral and general health and health care. Background: In his seminal framework, Handwerker posited that the norms, attitudes and behaviours related to the experience of disease and treatment reflect where patients live and have lived and are seeking and have sought care, along with their webs of social and health relations. This framework guides the analysis for the present study, wherein qualitative data are used to understand mouth and body knowledge, beliefs and behaviours among racial/ethnic minority older adults, ie, why individuals do what they do and what it means to them. Materials and methods: Focus groups were conducted in Spanish or English with 194 racial/ethnic minority older adults living in northern Manhattan who participated in one of 24 focus group sessions about improving oral health. All groups were digitally audio-recorded, transcribed and translated into English from Spanish, where apt. Analysis involved the classification of evidence from all datasets, organised to identify patterns and relationships. Results: Four themes were manifest in the data regarding cultural understandings of the mouth, the body and health: (a) the ageing mouth and its components; (b) the mouth in relation to the body, health and disease; (c) social meanings of the mouth; and (d) care of the ageing mouth. Conclusion: Underserved older adults from diverse cultural backgrounds understand the importance of their mouths to both their overall health and social lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-349
Number of pages11
JournalGerodontology
Volume35
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018

Keywords

  • focus groups
  • older adults
  • oral health
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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