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The aim of this study was to test a structural equation model (SEM) with the following hypotheses: (1) patients’ perceptions of oral health care professionals’ (i.e., dentists and dental hygienists) controlling interpersonal styles would positively predict patients’ dental anxiety through their basic psychological need frustration in treatment; (2) in turn, high dental anxiety would positively predict dysregulation of dental anxiety, which through a feedback loop contributes to perception of oral health care professionals’ controlling styles; and, (3) in addition, both dental anxiety and dysregulation of dental anxiety would predict poor Oral Health‐Related Quality of Life (OHRQoL) and subsequently poor general well‐being. A cross‐sectional study was conducted among 322 students at the University of Oslo. Participants responded to a survey with validated questionnaires. All variables in the model tested were acceptably normally distributed. The SEM did fit the data well and all hypotheses were supported. A bootstrapping procedure indicated that all indirect links in the model were supported. Analysis indicated that common method variance (CMV) did not seriously distort the results in this setting. Although the majority of oral health care professionals are perceived as being noncontrolling by their patients (51%), the proportion perceived as moderately (38%) or highly (11%) controlling represent a challenge for oral health care education and practice. It would be useful for oral health care professionals to be trained in avoiding a controlling treatment style.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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