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Self perceived oral health and quality of life of middle school students
in Liberia and the USA Ã¢ÂÂ does culture matter?
Aims: To assess self perceived oral health and oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) of middle school students in Liberia and the USA (Aim 1), to compare the responses of these two groups of students (Aim 2), and to explore whether self perceived oral health and OHRQoL are related among the adolescents in these two countries (Aim 3). Methods: Questionnaire data on OHRQoL were collected from a convenience sample of 406 students (36.5% male / 63.5% female; average age = 14.51 years; SD = 2.586) in nine middle schools in Monrovia, Liberia, and from 453 black students (42.3% male / 57.7% female; average age = 12.74 years; SD = 1.023) in six middle schools in socio economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in the USA. Results: Compared to middle school students in the USA, Liberian students had a tendency to describe their oral health as more positively (4 point scale from 1 = ?not healthy? to 5 = ?very healthy?: 3.18 vs. 3.06; p = .092) and they had a higher variance in their responses (1.428 vs. .487; p < .001). However, the Liberian students reported on average more oral health-related pain, more temporomandibular joint related symptoms, and more negative consequences of their oral health status than the students in the USA. Self perceived oral health correlated with oral health-related quality of life sub scores as well as with the total OHRQoL score in both countries (Liberia: r = -.37; p<.001 / USA: r = -.26; p<.001). Conclusions: Cultural influences on the responses to questions concerning self perceived oral health and OHRQoL should be studied. Assessing oral health-related quality of life indicators can contribute to a more differentiated understanding of self perceptions of oral health-related experiences of middle school students in different cultural settings.