Children’s Perceptions of Dentistry: Giving Children a Voice about their Dental Care
Historically, little weight has been given to children’s opinions about their healthcare, however, as research takes a more cooperative approach, the need has arisen for suitable techniques that help young children communicate their experiences. Although psychological research has shown that drawing can be an effective interview technique for gaining additional and accurate information from children, researchers in paediatric dentistry have yet to utilise drawing in this capacity. The overarching goals of the present research were two-fold: (1) to seek children’s views about a routine visit to a dental professional, and (2) to examine the use of drawing as a means to enhance children’s communication about their dental experience. A total of 42 children between the ages of 3 to 7 years who had received a routine dental appointment in the previous 6 months were interviewed about their experience. Children were randomly assigned to one of two interview groups. Half of the children were asked to tell the experimenter about their visit to the dentist therapist (tell-only group); the remaining half were provided with paper and coloured pens and were asked to draw and tell about their visit to the dentist therapist (draw-and-tell group). Children reported more neutral information about their dental experiences than positive or negative information. Although children who drew reported more information than those who only told, this difference was not statistically significant. Children’s most frequent positive responses were about the dental environment, and their most frequent negative responses were about physical sensations associated with their appointment. Children suggested that getting a gift/treat, a more gentle dentist, and holding parents’ hands would improve their dental experiences. The insights provided by the children in the current experiment could be used to explore different ways of helping children to accept and participate in dental treatment, thus maximizing their oral health care.
Advisor: Hayne, Harlene; Gross, Julien; Drummond, Bernadette
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: children; drawing; psychology; dentistry
Research Type: Thesis