Method: a census type cross-sectional study was developed with undergraduates in dentistry, psychology and mathematics. Following authorization from the Human Research Ethics Committee of UFMG, the undergraduates responded the DFS in the classroom. DFS is a 20-item Likert-type questionnaire that uses representative five-point ratings. SPSS for Windows, version 17.0 was used for the statistical analysis with 5% significance level. A total of 1,256 students participated in the study, with an average age of 22.3 years (SD = 5.1), 37.1% men and 62.9% women. Factor analysis and cluster analysis were made.
Result: Factor analysis led to three structural factors. The first factor related to fear of specific dental stimuli (items 14-20) accounted for 25.96% of the scale’s total variance. The second factor related to patterns of dental avoidance and anticipatory anxiety (items 1, 2 and 8-13) accounted for 21.20% of the scale’s total variance. The third factor was concerned the physiologic arousal felt during dental treatment (items 3-7) accounted for 19.06% of the scale’s total variance. Cronbach's alpha ranged from 0.86 to 0.93, indicating internal reliability consistency. The cluster analysis produced three groups of students, categorized by DFS scores in low fear (56.4%), moderate fear (32.9%) and high fear (10.7%). The variance analysis showed a statistically significant difference among the three groups of fear (p <0.001).
Conclusion: Factors analysis of DFS disclosed three stable and reliable factors among the undergraduates from the three different fields of study.
Keywords: Behavioral science and dental fear
See more of: Behavioral, Epidemiologic, and Health Services Research