Protocol for a feasibility study of a self-help cognitive behavioural therapy resource for the reduction of dental anxiety in young people.
BACKGROUND: Childhood dental anxiety is very common, with 10-20 % of children and young people reporting high levels of dental anxiety. It is distressing and has a negative impact on the quality of life of young people and their parents as well as being associated with poor oral health. Affected individuals may develop a lifelong reliance on general anaesthetic or sedation for necessary dental treatment thus requiring the support of specialist dental services. Children and young people with dental anxiety therefore require additional clinical time and can be costly to treat in the long term. The reduction of dental anxiety through the use of effective psychological techniques is, therefore, of high importance. However, there is a lack of high-quality research investigating the impact of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) approaches when applied to young people's dental anxiety. METHODS/DESIGN: The first part of the study will develop a profile of dentally anxious young people using a prospective questionnaire sent to a consecutive sample of 100 young people referred to the Paediatric Dentistry Department, Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, in Sheffield. The second part will involve interviewing a purposive sample of 15-20 dental team members on their perceptions of a CBT self-help resource for dental anxiety, their opinions on whether they might use such a resource with patients, and their willingness to recruit bparticipants to a future randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the resource. The third part of the study will investigate the most appropriate outcome measures to include in a trial, the acceptability of the resource, and retention and completion rates of treatment with a sample of 60 dentally anxious young people using the CBT resource. DISCUSSION: This study will provide information on the profile of dentally anxious young people who could potentially be helped by a guided self-help CBT resource. It will gain the perceptions of dental care team members of guided self-help CBT for dental anxiety in young people and their willingness to recruit participants to a trial. Acceptability of the resource to participants and retention and completion rates will also be investigated to inform a future RCT.