Emotional contagion of dental fear to children: the fathers’ mediating role in parental transfer of fear


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Abstract

Background.Dental fear is considered to be one of the most frequent problems in paediatric dentistry. According to literature, parents’ levels of dental fear play a key role in the development of child's dental anxiety.Hypothesis or Aim.We have tried to identify the presence of emotional transmission of dental fear among family members and to analyse the different roles that mothers and fathers might play concerning the contagion of dental fear to children. We have hypothesized a key role of the father in the transfer of dental fear from mother to child.Design.A questionnaire-based survey (Children's Fear Survey Schedule-Dental Subscale) has been distributed among 183 schoolchildren and their parents in Madrid (Spain). Inferential statistical analyses, i.e. correlation and hierarchical multiple regression, were carried out and possible mediating effects between variables have been tested.Results.Our results support the hypothesis that family members’ levels of dental fear are significantly correlated, and they also allow us to affirm that fathers’ dental fear is a mediating variable in the relationship between mothers and children's fear scores.Conclusions.Together with the presence of emotional transmission of dental fear among family members, we identified the relevant role that fathers play as regards the transfer of dental fear from parents to children.

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