Family functioning and preschool children's oral health-related quality of life

Sarah Almutairi*, Sasha Scambler, Eduardo Bernabé

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction: Identifying which aspects of how a family functions are relevant to child oral health provides opportunities for interventions targeting the family context. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations of general and domain-specific family functioning with oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) of 3–4-year-old children. Methods: Cross-sectional data from 740 parent-child dyads from East London were analysed. Family functioning was assessed with the 60-item Family Assessment Device that yields scores for general functioning and six domains (roles, behaviour control, communication, affective involvement, affective responsiveness and problem solving). Children's OHRQoL was measured using the Early Childhood Oral Health Impact Scale (ECOHIS), which measures the lifetime impacts of children's oral conditions on the child (child impact section, CIS) and family (family impact section, FIS). The associations of family functioning with the ECOHIS total, CIS and FIS scores were assessed in negative binomial regression models (rate ratios [RR] and 95% confidence intervals [95% CI] were calculated), adjusting for parental sociodemographic factors and child demographic factors and caries experience. Results: Children in families with unhealthy general functioning had 1.45 (95% CI: 0.87–2.43), 1.24 (95% CI: 0.73–2.13) and 2.19 (95% CI: 1.20–3.99) times greater ECOHIS total, CIS and FIS scores, respectively, than those in families with healthy general functioning after adjustment for confounders. Unhealthy functioning in the roles domain was associated with greater ECOHIS total and FIS scores. Unhealthy functioning in the problem solving, roles and affective involvement domains were also associated with greater FIS scores. Conclusions: Unhealthy family functioning was associated with worse child OHRQoL, especially in terms of disrupting family life. Effective assignment and undertaking of roles should be further explored as a target for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunity Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • children
  • family
  • oral health
  • quality of life


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