Can parents and children evaluate each other's dental fear?


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Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine whether parents and their 11–16-yr-old children can evaluate each other's dental fear. At baseline the participants were 11–12-yr-old children from the Finnish Cities of Pori (n = 1,691) and Rauma (n = 807), and one of their parents. The children and their parents were asked if they or their family members were afraid of dental care. Fears were assessed using single 5-point Likert-scale questions that included a ‘do not know’ option. Children and parents answered the questionnaire independently of each other. Background variables were the child's and their parent's gender. Parents' and children's knowledge of each other's dental fear was evaluated with kappa statistics and with sensitivity and specificity statistics using dichotomized fear variables. All kappa values were < 0.42. When dental fear among children and parents was evaluated, all sensitivities varied between 0.10 and 0.39, and all specificities varied between 0.93 and 0.99. Evaluating dental fear among fearful children and parents, the sensitivities varied between 0.17 and 0.50 and the specificities varied between 0.85 and 0.94, respectively. Parents and children could not recognize each other's dental fear. Therefore, parents and children cannot be used as reliable proxies for determining each other's dental fear.

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