Aim: To explore the mechanisms by which some children select disruptive behaviours to cope with stressful dental events. In particular, the relationships between dental fear, expected effectiveness of destructive coping, and intentions of displaying uncooperative behaviours were analysed. Design: Participants were 170 children who filled out a questionnaire survey. Descriptive statistics by gender and group age as well as comparisons of means were calculated. Spearman's rho correlation coefficients and binary logistic regression analysis were used to test hypotheses of the relationships among variables. Results: Both dental fear and the expected effectiveness of destructive coping strategies were significantly associated with children's uncooperative intentions at the dentist. In addition, children who strongly endorsed the effectiveness of destructive coping strategies had a higher probability of uncooperative intentions as dental fear increased. In contrast, this relationship was not statistically significant among children who did not expect negative behaviours to be effective. Conclusions: Children's expectations about the effectiveness of destructive coping behaviours can help explain variations in the use of these strategies in stressful dental situations. Dental fear as well as children's inadequate expectancies about coping alternatives should be explored and targeted to prevent and modify uncooperative behaviour intentions at the dentist.
ASJC Scopus subject areas