Dentists' perceived stress and its relation to perceptions about anxious patients

Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2001 Feb;29(1):73-80.


Dentists' perceptions about the stressfulness of dental practice, their perceptions about dental anxiety and its management were surveyed in a descriptive study. A mailed questionnaire was completed by 216 randomly selected Danish private dentists. Of these, nearly 60% perceived dentistry as more stressful than other professions. Dentist perceptions of the most intense stressors were (ranked): 1) running behind schedule, 2) causing pain, 3) heavy work load, 4) late patients and 5) anxious patients. Bivariate odds ratio (OR) analyses were undertaken to check for associations of perceived stress and other dentist variables with perceptual outcomes about anxious patients. Signs of dental anxiety were reported to be less often spotted by older (> or = 52 yr) dentists (OR=3.1) who perceived their job stress to be greater than that of other professionals (OR=3.2). Perceived causes of dental anxiety (1st, 2nd or 3rd choices tallied and then ranked) were 1) fear of pain, 2) trauma in dental treatment, 3) general psychological problems, 4) shame about dental status and 5) economic excuses. Dentists who reported that dental anxiety was primarily the result of general psychological problems in patients, usually had solo (OR=2.4) practices older than 18 years (OR=2.6) and reported high perceived stress (OR=2.2). Adjusted odds ratios for these two dentist perception outcomes about anxious patients generally improved strength of associations and confidence intervals. There were no meaningful differences by practice location or perceived public image. Also, there was no significant association between the use of pharmacological strategies for anxiety and the perceived stress of dentists. Nearly all dentists talked with anxious patients as their main treatment strategy. It was concluded that psychosocial aspects of dental practice have meaningful and often adverse associations with dentist perceptions about anxious patients. Some dentists appeared to require more knowledge about dental anxiety and managing their own stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Denmark
  • Dental Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Dental Anxiety / psychology*
  • Dental Care / adverse effects
  • Dentist-Patient Relations
  • Dentists*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Oral Health
  • Pain / etiology
  • Practice Management, Dental
  • Private Practice
  • Professional Practice Location
  • Public Relations
  • Shame
  • Social Class
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workload