DOI: 10.1111/scd.12949 ISSN: 0275-1879

A scoping review of interventions and outcome measures in trials of dental behavior support

Caoimhin Mac Giolla Phadraig, Aisyah Binti Ahmad Fisal, James Bird, Pedro Vitali Kammer, Isabel Fleischmann, Andrew Geddis‐Regan
  • General Dentistry



Dental behavior support (DBS) describes all techniques used by dental professionals to ensure that dental care is safe, effective, and acceptable. There is a need to standardize outcome measures across DBS techniques to reduce heterogeneity, limit selective reporting, promote consistency, and optimize outcomes across DBS research. A comprehensive review of existing measures is a prerequisite to understanding potential outcomes related to the area of interest.


This review had three aims: first, to identify the outcome measures (OMs) reported in trials of dental behavior support; second, to categorize the component DBS techniques reported within interventions according to emerging agreed terminology; and, third, to map outcome measures to intervention type.


A scoping review of trials evaluating DBS techniques was undertaken from 2012 to 2022. The review was prospectively registered. Studies were identified through Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO. Study abstracts were screened by two reviewers. Data were extracted by single selector. Outcome measures were sorted according to measurement domains (physiological, behavioral, psychological, and treatment). Responses were assimilated and summed to produce a refined list of distinguishable outcome measures. Intervention types were categorized according to accepted descriptors. Frequencies were presented; associations between outcome domain and DBS type were also reported (Chi‐square test of independence).


A total of 344 trials were included in the review from an initial 14,793 titles / title and abstracts screened. Most involved children (n = 215), most were from India (n = 104), involving basic dental care (n = 117). The median number of outcome measures per trial was four (range = 1–12); 1,317 individual outcomes were reported, categorized as: psychological (n = 501, 38.0%); physiological (n = 491, 37.3%), behavioral (n = 123, 9.3%) or, treatment‐related (n = 202, 15.3%). DBS interventions were split between 239 (45.7%) pharmacological and 283 (54.1%) non‐pharmacological; 96.6% of interventions mapped to accepted descriptors. A significant relationship was noted between the type of intervention and the outcome domain reported.


The findings demonstrate massive variation in outcome measures of DBS interventions that likely lead to unnecessary heterogeneity, selective reporting, and questionable relevance in the literature. A large range of DBS interventions were mapped according to BeSiDe list. There is a need for consensus on a core outcome set across the spectrum of DBS techniques.

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