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Open Access Research article

Trends in dental visiting avoidance due to cost in Australia, 1994 to 2010: an age-period-cohort analysis

Sergio Chrisopoulos*, Liana Luzzi and David S Brennan

Author Affiliations

Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, School of Dentistry, The University of Adelaide, 5005 Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:381  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-381

Published: 3 October 2013

Abstract

Background

The cost of dental care may be a barrier to regular dental attendance with the proportion of the Australian population avoiding or delaying care due to cost increasing since 1994. This paper explores the extent to which age, period and cohort factors have contributed to the variation in avoiding or delaying visiting a dentist because of cost.

Methods

Data were obtained from four national dental telephone interview surveys of Australian residents aged five years and over conducted in 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2010 (response rates 48% - 72%). The trend in the percentage of persons avoiding or delaying visiting a dentist because of cost was analysed by means of a standard cohort table and more formal age-period-cohort analyses using a nested models framework.

Results

There was an overall increase in the proportion of people avoiding or delaying visiting a dentist indicating the presence of period effects. Financial barriers were also associated with age such that the likelihood of avoiding because of cost was highest for those in their mid-late twenties and lowest in both children and older adults. Cohort effects were also present although the pattern of effects differed between cohorts.

Conclusion

The findings of this study suggest that, in addition to the increase in costs associated with dental care, policies targeting specific age groups and income levels may be contributing to the inequality in access to dental care.

Keywords:
Age; Period; Cohort; Financial barriers; Dental; Access