Relaxation Versus Cognitive Therapies for Dental Fear—A Psychophysiological Approach

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By separating 127 adult dental-phobic patients according to fear etiology and psychophysiologic response style, the authors investigated the outcome of 2 dental fear treatments. Before and after either relaxation or cognitively oriented treatment, subjects were exposed to neutral and fear-relevant video sequences while the subjects' forehead muscle tension, heart rate, and skin conductance were recorded. Pre- to postintervention differences in self-reported dental fear, general fear, and trait anxiety were analyzed together with psychophysiological data. Both treatments resulted in a significant reduction of dental fear. Despite significant interaction effects of Treatment Modality × Psychophysiological Response Style, it could not be concluded that patients with different fear etiologies or response styles benefit differentially from the 2 treatments given.

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