Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Daniel W. McNeil.


Fear of pain is an important factor within dental settings. Information is an effective method of enhancing predictability about aversive events during dental and medical procedures and can decrease fear and pain during treatment. Therefore, the effects of fear of dental pain and information type on fear and pain responding during endodontic treatment were examined. Experiment 1 included 268 undergraduate students to develop an informational videotape and a knowledge inventory designed to enhance predictability about root canal treatment and measure dental knowledge across 3 domains (oral hygiene, root canal procedure, and pain during root canal treatment). Results suggest that videotape information can enhance predictability; the knowledge inventory demonstrated the ability to detect content specific changes in dental knowledge. In Experiment 2, there were 104 endodontic patients from 2 clinics in West Virginia who viewed one of three informational videos prior to treatment; fear and pain behavior were recorded. Results from Experiment 1 were replicated in Experiment 2 using a clinical sample. Furthermore, results from Experiment 2 did not suggest differential effects of information type on fear and pain responding. Significant main effects of time emerged, indicating that fear and pain decreased after the procedure compared to any other time during treatment. These experiments demonstrate that although pain predictability can be enhanced using videotape information, endodontic patients may not be necessarily better served by receiving one type of information compared to another (e.g., procedure vs. pain-relevant) immediately prior to treatment. It is possible that the oral hygiene video functioned as a distraction from fear and pain and the information about pain sensitized patients to be vigilant of painful experiences, essentially offsetting potential positive fear and pain reduction effects of the pain information and overall negating differential effects. Due to methodological limitations, however, the possibility of distraction and sensitization will need to be addressed in future research. Clinically, these studies support the use of videotape information with root canal patients; practitioners should consider patient characteristics (e.g., fear of pain and anxiety sensitivity) when giving certain types of information.