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The modified dental anxiety scale: UK general public population norms in 2008 with further psychometrics and effects of age

Humphris, G., Dyer, T. and Robinson, P. (2009) The modified dental anxiety scale: UK general public population norms in 2008 with further psychometrics and effects of age. BMC Oral Health, 9 (1). p. 20. ISSN 1472-6831

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The Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS) is a brief, self-complete questionnaire consisting of five questions and summed together to produce a total score ranging from 5 to 25. It has reasonable psychometric properties, low instrumental effects and can be integrated into everyday dental practice as a clinical aid and screen for dental anxiety. The objectives were to (i) produce confirmatory evidence of reliability and validity for the MDAS, (ii) provide up-to-date UK representative norms for the general public to enable clinicians to compare their patients' scores, (iii) to determine the nature of the relationship between dental anxiety and age.


Telephone survey of a representative quota sample of 1000 UK adults (>18 years of age) conducted between 7–21 April, 2008.


Attrition of potential participants was high in the recruitment process, although bias was minimal. Estimated proportion of participants with high dental anxiety (cut-off score = 19) was 11.6%. Dental anxiety was four times greater in the youngest age group (18–39 yrs) compared to older participants (60+ yrs), controlling for sex, social class and self-reported dental visiting behaviour confirming previous developed-world reports.


The scale's psychometrics is supportive for the routine assessment of patient dental anxiety to compare against a number of major demographic groups categorised by age and sex. Dental anxiety was high in younger compared to older people.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2009 Humphris et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (Sheffield) > School of Dentistry (Sheffield) > Department of Oral Health and Development (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Sheffield Import
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2009 11:16
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2009 08:45
Published Version: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6831/9/20
Status: Published
Publisher: Biomed Central
Identification Number: 10.1186/1472-6831-9-20
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9672

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