Objectives: To describe the relationship between acculturation and oral health status, oral health knowledge and frequency of dental visits in subjects of Vietnamese background, 18 years or older, living in Melbourne, Australia.
Methods: Oral health status was measured using the DMFS index. Oral health knowledge was estimated by responses to six specific oral preventive measures: brushing, flossing, use of fluorides, diet, and dental visits. Dental visits was measured by the number of visits in the 12 months prior to the survey. Acculturation was measured along two dimensions, psychological and behavioural, using the Psychological-Behavioural Acculturation Scale. Data were analysed using multivariate analysis to identify the combined effect of eight predictors (age, gender, occupational status, education, reason for migration, proportion of life in the host country, behavioural acculturation and psychological acculturation) against the dependent variables.
Results: The analysis was conducted on a sample of 147 subjects and showed significant interactions between the acculturation variables and three outcome measures: dental caries, knowledge of preventive measures and dental visits. Results indicated that acculturation was an important intervening variable. Psychological acculturation was strongly related to the three oral health outcomes, although the effect of behavioural acculturation was also apparent regarding dental status.
Conclusions: This study offers several insights for understanding the mechanisms by which acculturation impacts oral health status. Interventions that simplify the cultural influence of immigrant groups by focusing on socio-demographic differences and even immigration variables to define risk groups might not produce predicted changes in oral health status.