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J Health Commun. 2003 Mar-Apr;8(2):171-87.

A qualitative analysis of patient-centered dentistry in consultations with dental phobic patients.

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Department of Psychology, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.


Dental phobia is regarded as one of the greatest obstructions to adequate dental care. It has long been established that fearful dental patients are particularly sensitive to dentists' behavior and performance of dental care. There is a need for the establishment of a systematic theory of dentist-patient communication and new methods analyzing how dentists interact with their patients. In this qualitative study, thirty semi-structured interviews were conducted in 1998 and 1999 with five dentists (three male and two female). Dentists consulted on two occasions with 15 newly enrolled, consecutive dental phobic patients (2 male and 13 female) in a Swedish clinic specializing in the treatment of odontophobia. The time interval between consultation one and two was approximately 2-3 weeks. Analysis of the transcribed interviews was based by the principles of Grounded Theory. The study identified one core category, "Holistic perception and understanding of the patient", two categories, "The dentist's positive outlook on people" and "The dentist's positive view of patient contact", and six further subcategories. Findings support previous models of patient-centered medicine and contribute to a better understanding of how patient-centered dentists interact with dental phobic patients.

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