Background Difficulties in communication due to vision, hearing and tooth loss have a serious impact on health. We compared the association between and attribution of each of these factors on social interaction. Methods This cross-sectional study examined data from the 2016 Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (n=22 295) on community-dwelling people aged ≥65 years in Japan. The dependent variable was the frequency of meeting friends as a measure of social interaction, and less-than-monthly was defined as fewer social interactions. The independent variables were self-reported degrees of vision, hearing (5-point Likert scale) and tooth loss (five categories), with 'poor' or '0 teeth' defined as the worst category. Sex, age, educational attainment, comorbidity and residential area were used as covariates. Poisson regression analysis with multiple imputations was used to estimate the prevalence ratios (PRs) of fewer social interactions by each status. Subsequently, the population attributable fraction (PAF) was calculated to assess the public health impact. Results The number of participants with fewer social interactions was 5622 (26.9%). Proportions of fewer social interactions among those with the worst vision, hearing and number of teeth categories were 48.7%, 40.1% and 32.0%, respectively. Their corresponding PRs of fewer social interactions were 1.72 (95% CI 0.97 to 3.05), 1.35 (95% CI 0.99 to 1.85) and 1.23 (95% CI 1.10 to 1.37), respectively. The total PAF for vision, hearing and number of teeth was 8.3%, 5.0% and 6.4%, respectively. Conclusion Self-reported vision, hearing and tooth loss were associated with fewer social interactions. The magnitude of these impairments was largest in vision, followed by tooth and hearing loss.
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