Possible predictors of discontinuation of specialized dental treatment among children and adolescents with dental behaviour management problems

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This study aimed to identify potential predictors of non-attendance among children and adolescents with dental behaviour management problems (DBMP). A group of 179 patients, 7.5–19 yr of age, was grouped into 56 ‘non-attenders’ (discontinued treatment, missed appointments, or ≥ 20% cancellations) and 123 ‘attenders’. In addition to data from an introductory interview and dental recordings, baseline data from psychometric measures of fear and other personal and parental characteristics were included in logistic regression analyses and tree-based modelling. The non-attenders had higher scores on impulsivity and sociability and lower socio-economic status (SES) than the attenders, and they lived more often in single-parent families. Logistic regression analyses and tree-based modelling point to SES and parental anxiety as important predictors for non-attendance within this group of children and adolescents. To predict, and possibly to prevent, non-attendance among children and adolescents referred for specialized dental care because of DBMP, we must consider their lives and family situations as well as their personal characteristics and oral health status. Further research should focus on whether the observed associations between non-attendance and factors such as personal characteristics, family and psychosocial factors, and previous dental experiences, also hold for those who remain in regular dental care.

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