Press Releases

Study Explores the Influence of Social Networks on Oral Health Outcomes

July 27, 2023, Alexandria, VA, USA – A study published in the JDR Clinical & Translational Research (JDR CTR) aims to demonstrate the influence of social networks on oral health outcomes among women living in public housing in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

The study, “Modeling Social Network Influences on Oral Health Outcomes among Women Living in Public Housing,” by Brenda Heaton, et al., obtained individual- and network-level data from a cross-sectional survey of adult female residents of two public housing developments in Boston. Participants responded to close-ended questions about sociodemographic characteristics, oral and general health status, and health-related behaviors for themselves as well as their named social contacts. Based on this information, network-level variables were calculated for each participant, including the proportion of the social network with certain characteristics or attributes. To assess the salience of network measures in explaining the variability in self-reported oral health status, overall health status, use of dental services within the last year, and current dental treatment needs, logistic regression models with individual-level covariates were compared with corresponding models that additionally included network-level variables with McFadden R2 for comparison purposes.

Model comparisons for each outcome of interest demonstrated that adding network-level covariates significantly improved model fit. Additionally, network-level covariates displayed strong independent associations with the outcomes of interest. The network proportion needing dental treatment was positively associated with participants’ odds of reporting current dental treatment needs (odds ratio, 4.71; 95% CI, 1.47 to 15.05). An individual’s odds of reporting no dental visit within the past year decreased with increasing exposure to social contacts with reported dental visits within the past year (odds ratio, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.07 to 0.89).

The study found that the salience of specific network attributes depended on the outcome under study. Interventions aimed at reducing the poor oral health burden in this and similar population groups may benefit from integrating information on social networks, including tailoring intervention delivery and/or messaging to account for the potential influence of social networks.

About the JDR Clinical & Translational Research

The JDR Clinical & Translational Research (JDR CTR) is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal that encompasses all areas of clinical and translational research in the dental, oral, and craniofacial sciences. Launched by IADR and AADOCR, JDR CTR provides a resource for clinicians, scientists, academics, researchers, and policy makers across the entire spectrum of the dental community. Follow JDR CTR on Twitter @JDRClinTransRes!


The IADR is a nonprofit organization with a mission to drive dental, oral, and craniofacial research for health and well-being worldwide. IADR represents the individual scientists, clinician-scientists, dental professionals, and students based in academic, government, non-profit and private-sector institutions who share our mission. The AADOCR is the largest Division of IADR. Learn more at