Systematic review of the effect of dental staff behaviour on child dental patient anxiety and behaviour

Yuefang Zhou, Elaine Cameron, Gillian Forbes, Gerald Michael Humphris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To review the literature, of the past 30 years, on the effects of dental staff behaviour on the anxiety and behaviour of child dental patients; especially to determine staff behaviours that reduce anxiety and encourage cooperation of children.

Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted using PubMed, Web of Science, The Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, Embase and CINAHL.

Results: Initial search returned 31 publications of which 11 fulfilled the criteria for review. Among seven studies that measured anxiety, four used validated measures. Five observational studies coded behaviour using Weinstein et al.'s (1982) coding scheme [1]. An empathic working style and appropriate level of physical contact accompanied by verbal reassurance was found to reduce fear-related behaviours in children. Findings regarding positive reinforcement and dentists' experience increasing cooperative behaviour were inconsistent.

Conclusions: Measures for anxiety and behaviour varied across studies. Relationships between certain dental staff behaviours and child anxiety/behaviour were reported. However, limited work was identified and research using improved sampling, measurement and statistical approach is required.

Practice implications: Understanding what routine clinical behaviour of dental staff affects children's dental anxiety/behaviour will inform investigators of how children comply and help staff be aware the significance of their daily behaviour on treatment success. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-13
Number of pages10
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
Early online date31 Aug 2010
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


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