Does completing a dental anxiety questionnaire increase anxiety? A randomised controlled trial with adults in general dental practice

Br Dent J. 2006 Jul 8;201(1):33-5. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4813772.


The assessment of dental anxiety can be achieved by using brief multi-item scales.

Objective: To test the null hypothesis that completing the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale had no immediate influence on patient state anxiety.

Outcome measure: Speilberger State Anxiety Inventory-6 item Short Form.

Study design: Randomised controlled trial.

Participants: Patients (n = 1,028) attending 18 dental practices in Northern Ireland were invited to participate.

Results: Twenty-four patients refused (response rate 98%) providing 1,004 patients (mean age = 41 years, range = 16 to 90 years; 65% female) for analysis. Patients who completed the dental anxiety scale were found to have a virtually identical state anxiety score: mean (SD) = 11.36 (4.33) compared to those who completed the state anxiety assessment only: mean (SD) = 11.01 (4.35). The mean (CI95%) difference was 0.35 (0.89 to -0.18), t = 1.29, df1002, p = 0.2.

Conclusion: The completion of a brief dental anxiety questionnaire before seeing the dentist has a non significant effect on state anxiety.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dental Anxiety / diagnosis*
  • Dental Anxiety / psychology*
  • Female
  • General Practice, Dental
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manifest Anxiety Scale
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*