In the last two decades, there has been increasing application of the concept of social capital in various fields of public health, including oral health. However, social capital is a contested concept with debates on its definition, measurement, and application. This study provides an overview of the concept of social capital, highlights the various pathways linking social capital to health, and discusses the potential implication of this concept for health policy. An extensive and diverse international literature has examined the relationship between social capital and a range of general health outcomes across the life course. A more limited but expanding literature has also demonstrated the potential influence of social capital on oral health. Much of the evidence in relation to oral health is limited by methodological shortcomings mainly related to the measurement of social capital, cross-sectional study designs, and inadequate controls for confounding factors. Further research using stronger methodological designs should explore the role of social capital in oral health and assess its potential application in the development of oral health improvement interventions.
- oral health
- public health
- social capital
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health