Socio-environmental factors associated with self-rated oral health in South Africa: A multilevel effects model

Bukola G. Olutola, Olalekan A. Ayo-Yusuf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: This study examined the influence of the social context in which people live on self-ratings of their oral health. Method: This study involved a representative sample of 2,907 South African adults (≥16 years) who participated in the 2007 South African Social Attitude Survey (SASAS). We used the 2005 General Household Survey (n = 107,987 persons from 28,129 households) to obtain living environment characteristics of SASAS participants, including sources of water and energy, and household cell-phone ownership (a proxy measure for the social network available to them). Information obtained from SASAS included socio-demographic data, respondents' level of trust in people, oral health behaviors and self-rated oral health. Results: Of the respondents, 76.3% self-rated their oral health as good. Social context influenced women's self-rated oral health differently from that of men. Good self-rated oral health was significantly higher among non-smokers, employed respondents and women living in areas with higher household cell-phone ownership. Furthermore, trust and higher social position were associated with good self-rated oral health among men and women respectively. Overall, 55.1% and 18.3% of the variance in self-rated oral health were explained by factors operating at the individual and community levels respectively. Conclusion: The findings highlight the potential role of social capital in improving the population's oral health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3465-3483
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell-phone ownership
  • Mixed-effects model
  • Self-rated oral health
  • Social capital
  • South Africa
  • Trust


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