An investigation of the nature of research into dental health in prisons: A systematic review

T. Walsh, M. Tickle, K. Milsom, K. Buchanan, L. Zoitopoulos

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objectives: To establish the nature of research into dental health undertaken in prisons. Data sources: Databases were searched electronically. This process was supplemented by hand searching of references. Data selection: Two independent reviewers made initial selections and subsequently carried out full text screening. Discrepancies were discussed with a third reviewer and disagreements were resolved by consensus. Data extraction: Fifty potentially relevant studies were identified and further screened for inclusion. Of this number, 29 studies were excluded; the remaining 21 were deemed appropriate to include in the review. The primary focus of the papers identified was the oral health status of inmates, assessed by clinical examinations of decayed, missing and filled teeth (DMFT) and periodontal status, and self-report measures of oral health behaviours and service utilisation. Attempts were made to reduce sources of bias by selecting random samples of inmates and standardising measurement techniques, and addressing potential confounding effects. Few studies considered the potential impact of socio-economic status on disease levels. In some studies the oral health of inmate populations was compared to that of non-institutionalised individuals. Studies report high prevalence of oral disease, though precise levels differ according to the composition of the samples. Conclusions: The heterogeneity of populations studied and methods of assessment precludes simple generalisation, but the consistent trend appears to be that the oral health status of inmates is poor and also poor in comparison with non-institutionalised individuals where appropriate comparisons have been made. © 2008 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)683-689
    Number of pages6
    JournalBritish Dental Journal
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2008


    • DMF Index
    • Dental Health Surveys
    • Dental Research
    • Great Britain
    • Health Services Needs and Demand
    • Health Services Research
    • Humans
    • Oral Health
    • Periodontal Index
    • Prisons
    • United States


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