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Phobic avoidance and regular dental care in fearful dental patients: a comparative study.

Journal article
Authors Kajsa H. Abrahamsson
Ulf Berggren
Magnus Hakeberg
Sven G. Carlsson
Published in Acta odontologica Scandinavica
Volume 59
Issue 5
Pages 273-9
ISSN 0001-6357
Publication year 2001
Published at Institute of Odontology
Department of Psychology
Pages 273-9
Language en
Keywords Adult, Analysis of Variance, Avoidance Learning, Chi-Square Distribution, DMF Index, Dental Anxiety, psychology, Dental Care, utilization, Female, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Mood Disorders, psychology, Psychometrics, Questionnaires, Social Behavior
Subject categories Odontological behavioural science, Psychology


The present investigation was a comparative study of 169 highly fearful dental patients, some of whom received regular dental care (n = 28) and some who never, or only when absolutely necessary, utilized dental care (n = 141). It was hypothesized that phobic avoidance is related to anticipatory stress and anxiety reactions, negative oral health effects, psychological distress, and negative social consequences. Background factors (sex, age, education, and dental attendance pattern), dental anxiety, general fears, general state and trait anxiety, mood states, depression, and quality of life effects were studied. Data were analyzed with descriptive statistics and with exploratory factor and multiple logistic regression analysis. It was shown that dental anxiety is significantly higher among the avoiders and this is in particular evident for anticipatory dental anxiety. Oral health differed between the groups, and it was shown that avoiders had significantly more missing teeth, whereas regular attenders had significantly more filled teeth. The avoiders reported a stronger negative impact on their daily life, whereas there were no significant differences between the groups with regard to general emotions. The logistic regression analysis showed that phobic avoidance was predicted only by anticipated dental anxiety and missing teeth. It was concluded that differences between high dental fear patients with regular dental care and phobic avoidance were mainly related to anticipated fear and anxiety, oral health effects, and concomitant negative life consequences. These results are discussed in terms of subjective stress, negative cognitions, social support, and coping-strategies.

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