Coping in the chair : a validation study of the Monitoring Blunting Dental Scale : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The monitoring-blunting theory of coping in threatening situations (Miller, 1981, 1987) suggests that when faced with a threatening situation, individuals can respond either by attending to threatening information (―monitoring‖) or by avoiding threatening information (―blunting‖). A valid and reliable measure of children’s preferred coping styles in dental situations may assist dental staff in providing efficacious anxiety-reducing interventions to diverse groups of children. The current study sought to validate a scale of children’s preference for monitoring or blunting in dental situations (the Monitoring Blunting Dental Scale or MBDS). The psychometric characteristics of the scale were assessed in a group of 240 eleven to thirteen year old New Zealand children. Internal consistency reliability was adequate for both the monitoring ( = .743) and blunting ( = .762) subscales. Convergent validity was indicated by strong correlations (> .6) between the MBDS monitoring and blunting subscales and those of an adapted version of the Child Behavioural Style Scale (CBSS-M). Discriminant validity with respect to dental anxiety was strong for the monitoring subscale, r = .079, p = .221, but not the blunting subscale, r = .478, p <.001. Confirmatory factor analysis of the MBDS indicated adequate fit for a two factor monitoring-blunting model (RMSEA = .079), but unacceptable fit for a one factor model (RMSEA = .095). A similar finding was observed when confirmatory factor analysis of the CBSS-M was conducted. These confirmatory factor analyses suggested that the monitoring and blunting theoretical constructs cannot be justifiably regarded as representing poles of a single underlying dimension, but are better regarded as distinct, related constructs. A content analysis of children’s comments about the coping strategies they might adopt in several dental scenarios indicated that these strategies were largely classifiable within monitoring-blunting theory, with blunting-type strategies much more commonly mentioned. Given further validity evidence, the MBDS could be a useful measure when attempting to tailor anxiety-reducing interventions in dental settings to children with diverse coping preferences.
Dental anxiety, Anxiety in children