Dental fear in children was studied using Rachman's theory of fear acquisition. Sixty children from two age groups (7–10 years, 11–14 years) participated in the project. The children were new patients attending a paediatric consultation clinic for specialised dental treatment. Thirty-one were diagnosed as being clinically anxious regarding dentistry and 29 were found to be nonanxious. Information regarding children's past experiences and present level of anxiety was obtained from the examining dentist, the children and their parents. Mothers were also interviewed and observed to ascertain their own anxieties and behaviour. The results showed that of Rachman's three pathways to fear, conditioning appeared largely responsible for the children's development of dental fear. Children's fear was more strongly associated with subjective experience of pain and trauma than with objective dental pathology. Indirect learning processes were found to be of only minor importance in this study.
Behaviour Research and Therapy – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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