Background: A practice-based study was carried out to assess the comparative effectiveness and acceptability of standardised hypnosis, hypnosis with individualised imagery, cognitive behavioural treatment (CBT) and general anaesthesia (GA) in the treatment of dental phobia. Methods: A 4-group design was used with 4 repeated measurement occasions. Of an initial total of 137 dental phobics, 77 completed the study with sample sizes of between 14 and 29 patients in the 4 groups. Participants completed questionnaires of dental anxiety at the beginning of the trial, before and after the first dental appointment and again before the second dental appointment a week later. Results: Standardised hypnosis evidenced a significantly higher rate of premature termination of treatment than CBT. The completer analysis showed a significant reduction of dental anxiety after CBT and individualised hypnosis compared to the GA condition. The intent-to-treat analysis showed significant improvement only after CBT. Conclusions: The results suggest that CBT is the treatment of choice in dental phobia when taking both effectiveness and acceptability into account.

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