Children's experiences following a CBT intervention to reduce dental anxiety: one year on.
Objective: To investigate children's ongoing experiences of dental care and use of strategies to manage their dental anxiety following cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Design: A child self-completed postal questionnaire. Settings: Hospital, community and general dental practice. Subjects: Questionnaires were sent to 44 children, aged 10–17 years who had been referred to specialist services due to their dental anxiety. Intervention: Children had all previously received a guided CBT self-help intervention to reduce their dental anxiety and, on completion of treatment, had been discharged to their referring dentist. Questionnaires were sent out 12–18 months later to ascertain dental attendance patterns and application of any strategies learnt from the previous CBT intervention. Results: 22 responses (50%) were received from 16 girls and six boys. Eighty-two percent had subsequently accessed follow-up care with a general dental practitioner and over half of these had undergone a dental procedure, other than a check-up. Ninety-one percent reported feeling less worried about dental visits, than previously, and described a change in cognition, behaviours, and feelings that allowed them to manage their anxiety better. Conclusions: CBT has positive immediate and longitudinal effects in reducing children's dental anxiety. The challenge of adopting this evidence-based approach within primary care settings remains.