Are people with dental fear under-represented in oral epidemiological surveys?

Jason Armfield, Gary D. Slade, A. John Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Dental phobia is associated with poorer dental attendance so epidemiological surveys requiring participants to undertake a dental examination may result in an under-representation of participants with high dental fear. Method: We compared the dental fear distribution of participants and non-participants in an oral examination component of a national epidemiological survey of oral health. Of 12,606 in-scope dentate people aged 15+ who completed a structured computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) survey, 5,505 (43.7%) participated in the oral examination. Dental fear was assessed with a single-item measure in the CATI. Results: There was a significant difference between the percentages of participants and non-participants who rated themselves as "extremely" afraid, although the absolute difference (1.9%) was small. The association between extreme dental fear and participation was significant (OR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.5-0.77) in multivariate analyses after controlling for possible confounders. Females with extreme dental fear were also significantly less likely to undertake an oral examination. Conclusion: Even though people with dental fear and phobia may delay or avoid dental visits, they do not appear to be appreciably under-represented in oral epidemiological surveys.

Number of pages6
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Bias
  • Dental fear
  • Epidemiology
  • Participation
  • Phobia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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