Associations between adult attachment and: oral health-related quality of life, oral health behaviour, and self-rated oral health

An Erratum to this article was published on 25 November 2016



Although adult attachment theory has been revealed as a useful theoretical framework for understanding a range of health parameters, the associations between adult attachment patterns and a range of oral health parameters have not yet been examined. The aim of this study was to examine potential associations between attachment insecurity and: (1) oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL), (2) oral health behaviours, and (3) self-rated oral health. In association with this aim, sample characteristics were compared with normative data.


The sample in this cross-sectional study was comprised of 265 healthy adults, recruited via convenience sampling. Data were collected on attachment patterns (Experiences in Close Relationships Scale-Short Form, ECR-S), OHRQoL (Oral Health Impact Profile-14, OHIP-14), oral health behaviours (modified Dental Neglect Scale, m-DNS), and self-rated oral health (one-item global rating of oral health). Multivariate regression models were performed.


Both dimensions of attachment insecurity were associated with lowered use of favourable dental visiting behaviours, as well as decreased OHRQoL for both overall well-being and specific aspects of OHRQoL. Attachment avoidance was linked with diminished self-rated oral health.


This study supports the potential value of an adult attachment framework for understanding a range of oral health parameters. The assessment of a client’s attachment pattern may assist in the identification of people who are at risk of diminished OHRQoL, less adaptive dental visiting behaviours, or poorer oral health. Further research in this field may inform ways in which attachment approaches can enhance oral health-related interventions.

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Correspondence to Pamela Meredith.

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Meredith, P., Strong, J., Ford, P. et al. Associations between adult attachment and: oral health-related quality of life, oral health behaviour, and self-rated oral health. Qual Life Res 25, 423–433 (2016).

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  • Adult attachment
  • Oral health-related quality of life
  • Oral health behaviours
  • Self-rated oral health
  • Psychosocial factors