Author(s): De Jongh A, Schutjes M, Aartman IH
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Abstract Berggren's (1984) model of dental fear and anxiety predicts that dentally anxious individuals postpone treatment, leading to a deteriorating dental state and subsequently to fear of negative evaluations in relation to their oral condition. The present study aimed to test one of the core assumptions of this model, namely that deterioration of dental health status would mediate the effects of avoidance of dental care on self-reported fear of negative evaluation. Participants were 73 patients (mean age 38.5 yr) meeting the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders - 4th edn - Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) criteria of dental phobia. Variables in the theoretical model were operationalized with multiple measures. A series of Sobel tests indicated that mediation was present for the relationship between years of avoidance and fear of negative self-evaluation when dental health status was based on the assessment of dentists or patients' opinion of their own dental state, but not when dental health status was operationalized as decayed, missing or filled surfaces (DMFS). Although the findings are supportive of Berggren's model, other causal pathways that contribute to the perpetuation of anxiety and fear still need to be tested. The results suggest that individuals with high levels of dental anxiety would particularly benefit from interventions specifically designed to break their avoidance pattern. © 2011 Eur J Oral Sci.
This article was published in Eur J Oral Sci
and referenced in Journal of Depression and Anxiety