British Journal of Clinical Psychology

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Volume 24 Issue 4 (November 1985), Pages 225-304

Cognitive processes in dental anxiety (pages 259-264)

While waiting for treatment in a dental hospital clinic, 146 patients completed questionnaires designed to measure their anxiety and cognitions about dental treatment. Both attendance pattern (regular versus irregular) and anxiety levels were related to the patients' perceptions of the likelihood of negative events, and highly anxious patients saw positive events as being less likely than did patients with low anxiety. It also seems that irregular attenders are more anxious than regular attenders because they believe that they will require more extensive treatment and not because they have a greater fear of dentistry per se. The results indicate that a cognitive approach to dental anxiety can explain why high anxiety is maintained despite repeated pain‐free experiences and suggests methods of treatment.

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