METHOD: A single-blind RCT was conducted among 30 randomized patients with dental phobia to either VRET or informational pamphlet (IP) condition. Primary outcome anxiety measures (VAS-A, MDAS and DFS) were evaluated at baseline, pre- and post-intervention, 1-week, 3-months and 6-months follow-up. Secondary outcome measures assessed were pre-post behavioral avoidance, temporal variations of heart rate and VR-experience during and post-VRET, and dental treatment acceptance in both conditions at 6-month follow-up.
RESULTS: Intention to treat analysis, using a repeated measures MANOVA, revealed a multivariate interaction effect between time and condition (p = 0.015) for all primary outcome measures (all ps
DATA SOURCES: A systematic search using relevant keywords was conducted in PubMed-Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Scopus, and The Cochrane Library.
INCLUSION CRITERIA: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared technology-based interventions with inactive controls in the treatment of moderate to severe dental anxiety were included.
RESULTS: A total of seven RCTs were included in the review. These studies investigated the effectiveness of video modeling, computerized cognitive behavioral therapy, virtual reality exposure therapy, and distraction with music and audiovisual video material. Six studies examining video modeling, computerized cognitive behavioral therapy, virtual reality exposure therapy, and distraction (audiovisual) showed significantly greater reductions in dental anxiety than inactive controls in both children and adults. None of the included studies followed Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials guidelines completely or reported sufficient data, thereby precluding a possible meta-analysis. Four out of seven included studies were assessed to be at high risk of bias.
CONCLUSIONS: A limited number of studies supported the effectiveness of technology-based interventions in the treatment of dental anxiety in children and adults.
CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The quality of the methods of studies on the effects of technology-based interventions allows only limited inferences on the effects of these interventions. However, within the limitations of the systematic review, the results converge to suggest that technology-based interventions may be useful as an adjunct to standard dental care. High-quality RCTs are needed to determine the (relative) effectiveness of these interventions.
PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42017064810.