Self-efficacy, oral health literacy and self-rated oral health of Aboriginal Australians

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Objective: Michael Marmot’s statement that the key determinants of social inequality in health lie in the circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work and age is a core principle within social epidemiology. Epidemiology shows us that these social inequalities arise from differentials in access to resources and power. Self-efficacy is a belief in ones ability to achieve at something; the confidence to carry out behaviour necessary to reach a desired goal and is seen as a key requirement to self-managing disease or illness.
Method: This presentation will address a new understanding of indigenous oral health self- efficacy, oral health literacy and self- reported oral health status using both quantitative and qualitative data

Results: Research in Australia with Indigenous populations has demonstrated a strong path from family, motivational and behavioural links to Indigenous child achievement, health outcomes and self-efficacy. Navigating health systems requires both a high level of health literacy, but also a high level of self-efficacy; both are highly correlated.

Conclusion: To achieve self-directed change, people need to be given reasons to alter unhealthful habits but also the means and resources to do so. Change is particularly difficult to engender in disadvantaged populations where 'upstream' interventions are necessary to achieve population level differences in outcomes. Effective self-regulation of behaviour is not achieved by an act of will but requires a particular set of skills. Perceived self-efficacy is concerned with people’s beliefs about their capabilities affect what they choose to do, how much effort they mobilise, how long they will persevere in the face of difficulties, engagement in self-debilitating or self-encouraging thought patterns, and stress and depression they experience in taxing situations. When people lack self-efficacy, they do not manage situations effectively, even though they know what to do and possess the requisite skills: the difference between literacy and self-efficacy.


ConferenceInternational Association for Dental Research
Internet address


  • social inequality
  • oral health
  • Aboriginal Australians


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