Ambivalence in coping with dental fear and avoidance: a qualitative study

J Health Psychol. 2002 Nov;7(6):653-64. doi: 10.1177/1359105302007006869.


Dental phobia is a widespread problem, which can have significant impact on the individual's health and daily life. This grounded theory study aims to explore the situation of dental phobic patients: how dental phobia interferes with their normal routines and functioning, social activities and relationships, what factors contribute to the maintenance of dental fear and how they cope with their fear. In the qualitative analysis of thematized in-depth interviews four main categories were developed: threat to self-respect and well-being, avoidance, readiness to act and ambivalence in coping. The results show that several psychological and social factors interact in determining how dental phobic individuals cope with their fear, and demonstrate in what way dental fear affects their daily lives.