Dry mouth is a common condition among older adults that negatively influences oral health, general health, and quality of life. The role of psychosocial factors in oral health conditions and diseases remains largely unknown. We conducted a study to examine the relationship between perceived stress and dry mouth among US older Chinese adults and further investigated the potential moderating role of social support and social strain from different sources in the relationship.
Baseline of the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago, a community-engaged, population-based longitudinal study of health and well-being among community-dwelling US older Chinese adults.
Individuals 60 years or older (N = 3157).
Perceived stress was measured by the 10-item Chinese Perceived Stress Scale to evaluate the degree to which life situations were perceived as stressful during the preceding month on a 5-point scale, ranging from 0 ("never") to 4 ("very often"). Dry mouth was a binary self-reported outcome variable (1 = "dry mouth"). Social support was measured by the Health and Retirement Study's social support and strain scale from sources including spouse, other family members, and friends with a 3-point response set, ranging from 0 ("hardly ever") to 2 ("often"). Sociodemographics and disease processes were assessed as covariates. We conducted stepwise logistic regressions with interaction terms.
Having higher levels of perceived stress was significantly associated with a higher likelihood of reporting dry mouth (odds ratio = 1.03; 95% confidence interval = 1.02-1.04). The effect of perceived stress on dry mouth may vary by levels of family and friend support.
Perceived stress may influence dry mouth either directly or indirectly. To prevent or reduce dry mouth, in addition to disease processes, interventions need to consider psychosocial factors in dry mouth, especially perceived stress and social support, in this growing population. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:S551-S556, 2019.