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Abstract

Background: Oral health inequalities are becoming a major threat to public health, and they excessively burden disadvantaged communities, especially within low and middle-income countries. This study explored the socioeconomic inequalities in self-perceived oral health behaviors among college-going students in Karachi, Pakistan. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 328 college-going students using a convenient sampling technique from three different socioeconomic groups including urban slums, middle, and rich class neighborhoods. Oral health was assessed using three measures: daily tooth brushing, weekly sweet consumption, and substance abuse. Socio-economic inequalities were measured using binary logistic regression (odds ratios), relative index of inequality, and slope index of inequality. Results: Out of 328 participants, 56.4% perceived their oral health as fair, 24.1% good, 14.9% poor, while only 4.6% had an excellent perception of oral health. Significant inequalities were found regarding oral health behaviours with fraternal income, occupation, and education level. Education-related absolute inequalities among college-going students were1.28(95% CI -2.19, -0.36 p-value<0.01), -1.34(95% CI -2.16, -0.52, p-value<0.01), -1.43(95% CI -2.70, -0.15, p-value<0.01) with tooth brushing, high sweet consumption, and substance abuse respectively. Similarly, income and occupation-related absolute inequalities were also existent. Conclusions: In Pakistan, data among college-going students regarding oral healthcare is scarce. Significant inequalities were found in oral health behaviours among college-going students. Thus, there is a need to design equity-based health system provisions specifically to address the needs of poor segments of society.

Author Bio(s)

Ghulam Kubra Rind MPH,BSMT is the Senior Research Assistant at Aga Khan University Hospital.

Nadia Shah M. Sc (Economics), MPhil (Applied Economics)| Lecturer HealthEconomics| Research Coordinator Masters Program, School of Public Health, Dow University of Health Sciences

Sumera Inam MSc. Biostats is the senior Lecturer & Biostatistician at the School of Public Health, Dow University of Health Sciences

Acknowledgements

None

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