An experimental test of adolescents' compliance with dental appointments

Karen P. West, Robert H. Durant, Robert Pendergrast

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This study assessed factors associated with adolescents' compliance with dental appointments. Patients (n = 162) attending an adolescent clinic were administered a pretest questionnaire assessing health locus of control, selfesteem, and beliefs and attitudes about dental health from the Health Belief Model. Adolescents needing dental care were randomly assigned to groups for whom their dental appointment was made by a health professional or one in which the patient made his or her own appointment and to groups receiving an appointment reminder card versus not receiving a reminder card. Dental records were then reviewed to examine previous experiences with dental treatment. Neither the method used for making the appointment nor the use of reminder cards had a significant effect on compliance with the dental appointments. Also, compliance was not associated with health locus of control, self-esteem, or variables from the Health Belief Model. Older patients were more noncompliant than younger patients (τ = 0.14). Noncompliance was negatively correlated with the number of previous dental visits and previous dental procedures, oral hygiene instruction, and x-rays. Number of previous x-rays and previous broken appointments explained 5.1% of the variation in noncompliance. The Health Belief Model was not successful in predicting compliance behavior in this sample of adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-389
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Dental appointment keeping
  • Health belief model
  • Health locus of control
  • Patient compliance
  • Reminder cards
  • Self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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