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A comparative study between literacy in medicine and dentistry and its association with lifestyle factors

Author: 
Sumithra, S., Dr. Nesa Aurlene, Dr. Sunayana Manipal, Dr. Rajmohan, Dr. Prabu, D., Dr. Sindhu, R. and Dr. Bharathwaj, V.V.
Subject Area: 
Health Sciences
Abstract: 

Background: Literacy is an undeniable necessity that enables individuals in any community to lead a socially productive life. Literacy in medicine and dentistry implies the ability of people to understand health information presented to them and make informed decisions regarding their health care. Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate whether there is an association between literacy in medicine and literacy in dentistry and also whether the medical and dental literacy scores had an influence on lifestyle factors. Methods: A single institutional cross-sectional survey was conducted in the months of October 2017 to November 2017 at SRM Dental College and Hospital, Ramapuram, Chennai. A total of 100 participants were included in the study. The questionnaire consisted of items to assess the dental literacy, medical literacy and lifestyle factors such as smoking status, alcohol consumption, and lifestyle factors including habit of playing sports, doing exercise and dietary habits. Bivariate analysis using Chi-square tests and Pearson’s correlation were used to analyse the data. The results were analysed using SPSS software for windows, version 20.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Results: Pearson’s correlation coefficient between dental literacy and medical literacy was found to be 0.268 which was found to be significant at p < 0.05. A weak positive correlation was elicited between medical literacy and dental literacy. Chi-square tests showed significant association between medical literacy and two lifestyle factors namely frequency of doing exercise and frequency of consuming poultry. Conclusion: The present study concluded that there is a positive association between medical literacy and dental literacy. It also concluded that medical literacy has an effect on lifestyle factors although not all lifestyle factors were found to be significantly associated with medical literacy. Targeting public health education programmes to improve medical and dental literacy could improve the health of a community by enabling people to comprehend health information better, to inculcate healthy lifestyle practices and make informed decisions regarding health care.

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