Assessing children's dental anxiety: a systematic review of current measures

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The reliable assessment of children's dental anxiety can have many benefits for the dental team, service providers and dental public health practitioners. This study aimed to identify and evaluate self-report measures, which are available to assess children's dental anxiety. Systematic searches of the literature between 1998 and 2011 were conducted to identify relevant studies. The properties of each measure (reliability and validity) were assessed, and measures were evaluated against a theoretical framework of dental anxiety. Executing the search strategy generated 498 articles and of these 60 studies met all of the inclusion criteria. Seven ‘trait' and two ‘state' measures of dental anxiety had been employed to assess children's dental anxiety over the past decade. Reliability and validity estimates for the most widely used measures were good; however, many questionnaires had a limited focus in the aspects of anxiety they assessed. The paper summarizes the measures of children's dental anxiety which may be most useful for a number of different purposes and populations.

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