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Eur J Oral Sci. 2012 Feb;120(1):82-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.2011.00924.x. Epub 2012 Jan 23.

Assessing the relative efficacy of cognitive and non-cognitive factors as predictors of dental anxiety.

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Department of Paediatric Dentistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, Rey Juan Carlos University, Madrid, Spain.


Although previous research has successfully tested the usefulness of cognitive and non-cognitive factors to predict dental anxiety, they have rarely been jointly analysed. This study therefore aimed to compare the relative predictive power of a set of cognitive and non-cognitive factors in accounting for dental anxiety scores. A sample of 167 Spanish undergraduate students (81.4% women; mean age 21.2 yr) completed a questionnaire comprising measures of dental anxiety, non-cognitive antecedents of dental anxiety (i.e. past aversive dental experiences, exposure to dentally fearful relatives, and trait-based negative mood), and cognitive variables (i.e. dental-related cognitive vulnerability, probability/aversiveness expectancies, and dental cognitions and beliefs). In multiple linear regression analyses, cognitions were found to significantly increase the proportion of variance accounted for in dental fear scores (ΔR(2) = 0.15, maximum ΔR(2) = 0.35). Cognitive factors were found to be the best individual predictors of dental fear (β-values ranging from 0.23-0.66). Furthermore, scores for past aversive treatment experiences and negative mood were not significant predictors of scores for dental anxiety when cognitive variables were included in the models. The analysis of cognitive mechanisms involved in dental anxiety is revealed as a potentially important point in better understanding this problem.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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