Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Michael Bertoch


The present study examined the effect of information about patient's dental anxiety on patient satisfaction, patient discomfort, and patients' perceptions of dental student behaviors. The validity of patients' perceptions was examined by independent observation of dental student behaviors on videotaped dental screening visits.

Thirty dental students each examined two dentally anxious female patients. Each student received information about one of the patient' s dental anxiety and no information about the other. The order of presentation of the conditions information and no information was counterbalanced. The dependent measures were the Dentist Behavior Checklist, the Dental Visit Satisfaction Scale, the Patient Discomfort Item, and independent observations of seven specific dental student behaviors.

Results of the present study suggest that patients' perceptions of specific dental student behaviors are only moderately correlated with independent observation for three of the behaviors. The presentation of information about patient dental anxiety resulted in no significant differences in patients' perceptions of behaviors. A significant interaction effect was found, however, between information and order of presentation for the independent observations of Took Patient Seriously and Was Calm. These findings suggest that when nonverbal behaviors were examined, dental students were more responsive to patients. This was only true, however, when students received information in the Information/No Information order.

No significant differences were found in either patient satisfaction or patient discomfort as a result of providing information about patient anxiety. Lastly, none of the dental student behaviors as independently observed were related to patient satisfaction. However, patients' perceptions of Encouraged Questions and Took Patient seriously were significant predictors of patient satisfaction.

Suggestions for further research include continued attempts to delineate dentist behaviors which are correlated with patient satisfaction.



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