Dimensions of the Dental Fear Survey among patients with dental phobia

Acta Odontol Scand. 1997 Oct;55(5):314-8. doi: 10.3109/00016359709114970.


The aims of this study were to analyze and assess dimensions of the Dental Fear Survey (DFS), which has been developed to measure dental fears and phobias. The present study of 313 dental-phobic individuals analyzed the DFS in a factor analysis using an exploratory (EFA) and a confirmatory (CFA) factor analysis to show dimensions and latent variables. The EFA showed a five-factor structure, with dimensions including items characterizing 'Avoidance of dental care', 'Physiologic arousal during dental treatment', 'Anticipatory anxiety while waiting for dental treatment', 'Fear of the injection needle', and 'Fear of the drill'. The total explained variance of the EFA was 63%. Although statistically significant, the CFA model showed a factor structure with 6 latent variables including a general dental fear factor loading on all 20 items together with the aforementioned 5 factors. In spite of the limitation in sample size and the significant test statistic for this 6-factor structure, the model was interpretable in its dimensionality. In conclusion, these factor analyses have shown a different factor structure of the DFS in this sample of dental-phobic individuals as compared with the dimensions reported from previous research in samples representing nonclinical populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Attitude to Health
  • Dental Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Dental Anxiety / psychology*
  • Dental Care / psychology
  • Dental Instruments
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Factors