Oral health promotion and labour market prospects of socially disadvantaged and unemployed people - a randomised controlled trial

Scand J Public Health. 2024 Feb;52(1):71-79. doi: 10.1177/14034948221092577. Epub 2022 May 4.

Abstract

Background: Previous studies indicate that poor oral health may constitute a barrier for labour market success. This study examines whether an oral health promotion intervention has an effect on economic self-support, and proximity to the labour market, among socially disadvantaged unemployed people.

Methods: From April-June 2018, we enrolled 273 vulnerable people on welfare benefits into a randomised controlled trial. Participants were allocated to either control (n=159), or intervention (n=114). Intervention consisted of individual support to improve individuals' oral health by reducing significant barriers to dental care. Ten participants were excluded, leaving 263 participants (intervention n=110, control n=153) for analyses. A national register was used to assess economic self-support and proximity to the labour market within 1.5 years post-intervention. Items of information on health and socio-demographics were obtained from a questionnaire and from national registers. Logistic and multiple linear regression modelling was performed.

Results: Overall, higher frequencies of economic self-support and proximity to the labour market were found in the intervention group, although no significant results were seen for economic self-support alone. Adjusted models revealed significantly higher odds (odds ratio=1.85, 95% confidence interval 1.08-3.17) among the intervention group of achieving proximity to the labour market after 12 months. After 18 months, the intervention group had on average obtained 5 more weeks (95% confidence interval 0.02-9.99) with proximity to the labour market.

Conclusions: Overall, the oral health promotion intervention had a positive effect on proximity to the labour market in the intervention group, especially within the first year of the study. Our findings suggest that interventions promoting oral health among socially disadvantaged and unemployed groups may contribute to social rehabilitation.

Keywords: Oral health promotion; labour market prospects; oral health inequalities; poor teeth; social assistance; social rehabilitation; socially disadvantaged; unemployment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Oral Health*
  • Social Welfare
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Unemployment