The modified dental anxiety scale: UK general public population norms in 2008 with further psychometrics and effects of age

BMC Oral Health. 2009 Aug 26;9:20. doi: 10.1186/1472-6831-9-20.

Abstract

Background: The Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS) is a brief, self-complete questionnaire consisting of five questions and summed together to produce a total score ranging from 5 to 25. It has reasonable psychometric properties, low instrumental effects and can be integrated into everyday dental practice as a clinical aid and screen for dental anxiety. The objectives were to (i) produce confirmatory evidence of reliability and validity for the MDAS, (ii) provide up-to-date UK representative norms for the general public to enable clinicians to compare their patients' scores, (iii) to determine the nature of the relationship between dental anxiety and age.

Methods: Telephone survey of a representative quota sample of 1000 UK adults (>18 years of age) conducted between 7-21 April, 2008.

Results: Attrition of potential participants was high in the recruitment process, although bias was minimal. Estimated proportion of participants with high dental anxiety (cut-off score = 19) was 11.6%. Dental anxiety was four times greater in the youngest age group (18-39 yrs) compared to older participants (60+ yrs), controlling for sex, social class and self-reported dental visiting behaviour confirming previous developed-world reports.

Conclusion: The scale's psychometrics is supportive for the routine assessment of patient dental anxiety to compare against a number of major demographic groups categorised by age and sex. Dental anxiety was high in younger compared to older people.