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Social networks, leisure activities and maximum tongue pressure: cross-sectional associations in the Nagasaki Islands Study

07 Dec 2017

Objectives

Social environment is often associated with health outcomes, but epidemiological evidence for its effect on oral frailty, a potential risk factor for aspiration, is sparse. This study aimed to assess the association between social environment and tongue pressure, as an important measure of oral function. The study focused on family structure, social networks both with and beyond neighbours, and participation in leisure activities.

Design

A population-based cross-sectional study.

Setting

Annual health check-ups in a rural community in Japan.

Participants

A total of 1982 participants, all over 40 years old. Anyone with missing data for the main outcome (n=14) was excluded.

Outcome measures

Tongue pressure was measured three times, and the maximum tongue pressure was used for analysis. A multivariable adjusted regression model was used to calculate parameter estimates (B) for tongue pressure.

Results

Having a social network involving neighbours (B=2.43, P=0.0001) and taking part in leisure activities (B=1.58, P=0.005) were independently associated with higher tongue pressure, but there was no link with social networks beyond neighbours (B=0.23, P=0.77). Sex-specific analyses showed that for men, having a partner was associated with higher tongue pressure, independent of the number of people in the household (B=2.26, P=0.01), but there was no association among women (B=–0.24, P=0.72; P-interaction=0.059).

Conclusions

Having a social network involving neighbours and taking part in leisure activities were independently associated with higher tongue pressure. Marital status may be an important factor in higher tongue pressure in men.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open