Some variables affecting dentists' assessment of patients' distress

Health Psychol. 1990;9(2):143-53. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.9.2.143.


Dental students estimated the pain distress and discomfort of their patients after patients received a Class II restoration (simple filing). Dentist's estimates of patient pain accounted for 36% of the variance in patient self-report responses. Dentist accuracy was significantly lower, however, for estimates of anxiety and distress. Dentist accuracy was unaffected by patient's degree of self-monitoring. There was a tendency for female dentists to demonstrate greater accuracy than male dentists, but this effect was nonsignificant. In addition, dentists' accuracy in assessing overall patient discomfort was significantly lower in that segment of the treatment procedure that was most stressful for the dentists. This article discusses theoretical explanations for this latter effect.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Arousal
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent / psychology*
  • Dentist-Patient Relations*
  • Dentists, Women / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Toothache / psychology*