Dental health knowledge and attitudes among the middle‐aged and the elderly in Hong Kong

Eli Schwarz, Edward C.M. Lo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Abstract Previous studies on adult Hong Kong Chinese have indicated that their level of knowledge of and attitudes toward dental health might be a potential barrier to effective oral preventive efforts. The knowledge and attitudes of elderly Chinese have not previously been studied. The objectives of this study were to describe Hong Kong adults' knowledge of the causes of the two main oral diseases, caries and periodontal disease, and possible preventive measures, and to analyse possible relationships between knowledge and attitudes and selected sociodemographic and utilization variables. Two populations aged 35–44 yr (n= 398) and 65–74 yr (n= 559) were selected for the study, which was conducted as structured interviews. A knowledge score was constructed from questions on caries and periodontal disease development and prevention. Attitudes were measured in the younger group by beliefs and evaluations of those beliefs according to the theory of reasoned action (the higher the score, the more positive the attitude). Knowledge scores were almost normally distributed in the younger respondents, but were heavily skewed toward 0 in the older group. In both age groups, increased level of education and regularity or recency of dental visits were strongly associated with dental knowledge. Women, regular dental care users, and prevention‐oriented respondents had higher attitude scores. There was no correlation between knowledge and attitudes. Some improvement in knowledge seems to have taken place, especially on the cause of caries, with fewer 35–44‐yr‐old respondents claiming lack of knowledge of the causes of caries and gum disease than in a previous study. In the older group, around half of the respondents were unaware of the causes of dental caries and gum disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-363
Number of pages6
JournalCommunity dentistry and oral epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • aged
  • attitudes to health
  • dental health surveys
  • knowledge, attitudes, practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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