OBJECTIVES: To investigate the association of caregivers’ oral health literacy (OHL) with their children’s oral health related-quality of life (C-OHRQoL) and explore literacy as a modifier in the association between children’s oral health status (COHS) and C-OHRQoL.
METHODS: This study relied upon data from structured interviews with 203 caregivers of children aged 3-5 from the Carolina Oral Health Literacy (COHL) Project. Data were collected for OHL using REALD-30, caregiver-reported COHS using the NHANES-item and C-OHRQoL using the Early Childhood Oral Health Impact Scale (ECOHIS). This study also measured oral health behaviors (OHBs) and socio-demographic characteristics and calculated overall/stratified summary estimates for OHL and C-OHRQoL. Spearman’s rho and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed as measures of correlation of OHL and COHS with C-OHRQoL. To determine whether OHL modified the association between COHS and C-OHRQoL, this study compared literacy-specific summary and regression estimates.
RESULTS: Reported COHS was: excellent-50%, very good-28%, good-14%, fair-6%, poor-2%. The aggregate C-OHRQoL mean score was 2.0 (95% CI: 1.4, 2.6), and the mean OHL score 15.9 (95% CI: 15.2, 16.7). There was an inverse relationship between COHS and C-OHRQoL: ρ = -0.32 (95% CI: -0.45, -0.18). There was no important association between OHL and C-OHRQoL; however, deleterious OHBs were associated with worse C-OHRQoL. Literacy-specific linear and Poisson regression estimates of the association between COHS and C-OHRQoL departed from homogeneity (Wald χ(2) p < 0.2).
CONCLUSION: In this community-based sample of caregiver/child dyads, a strong correlation was found between OHS and C-OHRQoL. The association’s magnitude and gradient were less pronounced among caregivers with low literacy.