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Open Access Research article

Comparing factors affecting commencement and cessation of betel quid chewing behavior in Taiwanese adults

Shue-Fang Yap1, Pei-Shan Ho1, Hsiao-Ching Kuo1 and Yi-Hsin Yang12*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Dental Hygiene, College of Dental Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan

2 Statistical Analysis Laboratory, Division of Clinical Research, Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:199  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-199

Published: 5 June 2008



Betel quid is the fourth most common used substance in the world after tobacco, alcohol and caffeine. Although factors related to betel quid chewing or cessation of behaviors were reported previously, few studies simultaneously compared both behaviors in the same population. In addition, it is essential to consider time-to-event concept, since the chance of developing or stopping habit may vary over time. The purpose of this study was to compare the risk factors for commencement and cessation of betel quid chewing behaviors in a time-to-event setting.


A stratified multi-stage cluster sampling with selection probabilities proportional to size (PPS) was designed for Taiwanese adults with aged 18 years old and above. Kaplan-Meier estimates and Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to compare and calculate the hazard rate ratios for related factors to commencement or cessation of chewing habits.


In Taiwan, men had a higher betel quid chewing rate (M: 20.9%, W: 1.2%), but woman chewers had a lower cessation rate (M: 27.5%, W: 12.7%). The hazard rate ratio (HRR) of having chewing habit changed from 4.22 (men vs women) univariately to 1.38 multivariablely, which indicated gender differences were confounded by other factors. In multivariable analysis, the risk factors of gender, education and ethnicity were significantly associated with both starting and cessation of betel quid chewing behavior. The factors of occupation, cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking were only associated with starting habit.


Commencement or cessation of chewing behavior involves a scenario of time, hence it is preferable to use a time-to-event approach for the comparison. The cessation rates of betel quid chewing were decreasingly associated with the daily consumption of betel quid. Hence, reducing of daily amount in betel quid cessation program may be associated with future stopping habit.