Chinese health beliefs and oral health practices among the middle‐aged and the elderly in Hong Kong

L. P. Lim, Eli Schwarz, Edward C.M. Lo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Abstract The purpose of this paper was to study possible relationships between traditional Chinese health beliefs and health practices in adult Chinese in a modernized society. The study populations comprised 398 35–44‐yr‐old and 559 65–74‐yr‐old Hong Kong Chinese. The respondents were categorized into three groups with weak, moderate, or strong Chinese beliefs on the basis of interview questions on the causes of gum disease. Chinese preventive practices and Chinese pain practices were defined according to respondents' reported use of recommended traditional cures. Questions on generally accepted oral practices were phrased in terms of frequency of daily brushing of teeth, use of toothpicks the previous day, and whether or not teeth were flossed the previous day. Around one‐third of the respondents had weak, almost one‐half had moderate, and around one‐quarter expressed strong Chinese health beliefs. No significant differences in Chinese health beliefs were found between men and women in either age group, or between the age groups. In the 35–44 age group, more of those with a higher education were in the “weak” Chinese health belief category, whereas, conversely, more of those with a lower education expressed stronger Chinese health beliefs (P<0.05). Women in both age groups reported significantly more frequent brushing. Toothpicks were used by around three‐quarters of both age groups, but flossing was extremely rare. Chinese preventive practices were reported significantly more frequently by those in the older group who held strong Chinese health beliefs than those with moderate or weak beliefs, whereas the trend in the younger group was not significant. Chinese pain practices were reported very infrequently. Chinese health beliefs did not correlate with use variables. In the older group, Chinese health beliefs correlated strongly with preventive practices and with knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-368
Number of pages5
JournalCommunity dentistry and oral epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • aged
  • brushing, teeth
  • dental health surveys
  • knowledge, attitudes, practice
  • medicine, Chinese traditional
  • oral health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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