Inequalities in the use of dental care among the elderly in 14 european countries
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Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Debrecen Hungary
Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Debrecen
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1559
Background And Objective:
Regular use of dental care among older people is low, even though healthy ageing can be achieved through better access to health services, including dental care. There is little evidence on the extent to which socioeconomic status and welfare systems influence access to dental care among older people. This study was to describe trends in the uptake of dental care and to compare the uptake of dental care with other types of health services among the elderly, taking into account different socioeconomic factors and welfare systems in European countries.

A multilevel logistic regression analysis was performed using longitudinal data from four waves of the European Health, Ageing and Retirement Survey database (between waves 5 and 8). Absolute and relative inequalities in the use of dental care and healthcare services were measured. The study sample consists of 20,803 respondents aged 50 years and older from 14 European countries.

The dental care attendance was the highest in Scandinavian countries, although, improving trends of dental attendance was recognized in Southern and Bismarckian countries (p<0.001). The absolute and relative income inequalities in use of dental care increased over the study period (p<0.001). The educational and income inequalities were higher for dental care attendance compared to other forms of healthcare. Income level and unemployed status had significant effect on forgoing dental care due to cost and unavailability.

The observed differences between socioeconomic groups regarding dental care utilization highlight the health consequences of the different organization and financing of dental care. Adopting policies to reduce financial barriers to dental care may benefit the elderly population. Furthermore, quality of life gains and reduction in overall cost of care is also expected by ensuring access to dental health care due to the correlation between chronic disease and oral health.