Gender Differences in Oral Health Knowledge and Behavior of the Health Science College Students in Kuwait

Article excerpt

Dental caries and periodontal diseases have been declining in most industrialized countries, but this positive trend has not been seen in the Middle East. This study aimed to determine oral health knowledge and behavior of the students at the Health Sciences College in Kuwait as well as possible associated factors. This study was first conducted at the college of the male students (n = 153) during the autumn semester in 2001. A similar questionnaire study was then conducted at the college of the female students (n = 547) during the spring semester in 2002. The samples were merged for this study, for a total sample of 700 students. The response rate was 84% (n = 128) among the male students and 73% (n = 400) among the female students. Most of the students had visited a dentist during the past year, and quite a high proportion was seen for an examination or prevention. Female students reported twice-a-day toothbrushing frequency much more often than did male students. They also used fluotide toothpaste more often than male students. Oral health knowledge (as a summary variable) was statistically significantly higher among the female students than among the male students. It was also strongly associated with the older age among the female students. The knowledge and oral health behavior of the Health Sciences College students in Kuwait, especially among the male students, seems to be poor and calls for an urgent improvement of health education programs. J Allied Health 2007; 36:41-46.

THE MOST COMMON DENTAL DISEASES, dental caries and periodontal diseases, are almost totally preventable with good oral hygiene and restriction of the frequency of sugar intake.1 However, it is extremely difficult to change individual behavior in these respects.2 The incidence of dental caries has been declining in the industrialized countries.3-5 There has also been a positive development in the periodontal diseases globally, which has occurred with the improved oral health behavior of the population.6 However, this positive development has not taken place in the Middle East.7-10 Knowledge of oral health behavior does not necessarily lead to better health behavior,2,11,12 but better knowledge seems to be associated with better behavior.13,14 Because auxiliary health personnel specialize in preventive information and health promotion, it is important that their own health and oral health knowledge are good and their health behavior conforms to the professional recommendations. With proper knowledge and health behavior, they can play an important role in the health education of individuals and groups15-18 and act as role models for lay people and the community at large. They also have the professional responsibility to educate the population, particularly the male population.

The aim of this study was to determine the oral health knowledge and behavior of the students at the Health Sciences College in Kuwait as well as possible associated factors.

Methods

The Health Sciences College in Kuwait was established in 1974, with separate colleges for the female and male students. It offers the following programs: general nursing, pharmaceutical and medical sciences, oral and dental health (female students only), medical records, environmental health, food sciences and nutrition, and medical laboratory technology (female students only).

This study was first implemented at the college of the male students (n = 153) during the autumn semester in 2001. The descriptive results of the male students were ear lier reported by Al-Ansari et al.19 A similar study was then conducted among the students at the college for the female students (n = 547) during the spring semester in 2002. The samples were merged together for a total sample size of 700 students.

A questionnaire was distributed to all students of both colleges. Participation was voluntary, and the answers were anonymous. The response rate was 84% (n = 128) among the male students19 and 73% (n = 400) among the female students. …