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J Adolesc Health. 1993 Jul;14(5):384-9.

An experimental test of adolescents' compliance with dental appointments.

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  • 1Department of Oral Health Practice, College of Dentistry, University of Kentucky, Lexington.


This study assessed factors associated with adolescents' compliance with dental appointments. Patients (n = 162) attending an adolescent clinic were administered a pretest questionnaire assessing health locus of control, self-esteem, and beliefs and attitudes about dental health from the Health Belief Model. Adolescents needing dental care were randomly assigned to groups for whom their dental appointment was made by a health professional or one in which the patient made his or her own appointment and to groups receiving an appointment reminder card versus not receiving a reminder card. Dental records were then reviewed to examine previous experiences with dental treatment. Neither the method used for making the appointment nor the use of reminder cards had a significant effect on compliance with the dental appointments. Also, compliance was not associated with health locus of control, self-esteem, or variables from the Health Belief Model. Older patients were more noncompliant than younger patients (tau = 0.14). Noncompliance was negatively correlated with the number of previous dental visits and previous dental procedures, oral hygiene instruction, and x-rays. Number of previous x-rays and previous broken appointments explained 5.1% of the variation in noncompliance. The Health Belief Model was not successful in predicting compliance behavior in this sample of adolescents.

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