The databases CINAHL, EMbase, Medline, PsycINFO, Cochrane/DARE EBM were searched using OVID together with the reference lists of retrieved papers.
Studies in English and German which investigated the relationship between parental and child dental fear and included children and young people aged 0–19 years were included. Particular emphasis was placed on studies which used established behaviour and anxiety measures to assess parental and child dental anxiety or child behaviour.
Data extraction and synthesis
A qualitative synthesis of the included studies was conducted with those studies which provided sufficient quantitative estimates of association between parental and child measures to enable transformation into effect sizes being used in a meta-analysis. A random-effects model was used.
Forty-three studies were included from across the six continents. The studies ranged widely with respect to research design, methods used, age of children included and the reported link between parental and child dental fear. The majority of studies confirmed a relationship between parental and child dental fear. This relationship is most evident in children aged 8 years and under. A meta-analysis confirmed an association between parental and child dental fear.
The narrative synthesis as well as the meta-analysis demonstrate a significant relationship between parental and child dental fear, particularly in children aged 8 years and under.