Reducing Dental Patient's State Anxiety in General Dental Practice: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Gerald Michael Humphris, YM Dailey, MA Lennon

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62 Citations (Scopus)


Anxiety assessment by questionnaire provides information for the dentist and may also confer a psychological benefit on patients. This study tested the hypothesis that informing dentists about patients' dental anxiety prior to commencement of treatment reduces patients' state anxiety. A randomized controlled trial was conducted involving eight General Dental Practitioners in North Wales. Participants included patients attending their first session of dental treatment, and accumulating a score of 19 or above, or scoring 5 on any one question, of the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS). Patients (n = 119) completed Spielberger's state anxiety inventory (STAI-S) pre- and post-treatment and were randomly allocated to intervention (dentist informed of MDAS score) and control (dentist not informed) groups. Intervention patients showed greater reduction in mean change STAI-S scores (F[1, 119] = 8.74, P < 0.0001). Providing the dentist with information of the high level of a patient's dental anxiety prior to treatment, and involving the patient in this, reduced the patient's state anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-322
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2002


  • dental anxiety
  • anxiety management
  • communication
  • psychometrics
  • FEAR


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