OBJECTIVES: The current study aimed to reach a greater understanding of psychosocial variables in patients who gag, and is a recognised gap within current literature. Obtaining a profile of patients who gag could provide valuable information in relation to future treatment planning and management of this type of difficulty. METHODS: All new patients aged > or =18 years, identified as having a difficulty with retching, and who attended the Anxiety Management Clinic, Department of Restorative Dentistry, Birmingham Dental Hospital, were invited to complete a brief questionnaire with questions related to general demographic data; difficulties with retching; and an oral health status measurement. This study has reported on 48 patients who attended the dental anxiety management clinic at Birmingham Dental Hospital and who presented with retching difficulties. One patient did not wish to take part in the study, leaving a final sample size of 47. The sample comprised 57% male (n=27) and 43% female (n=20) patients. RESULTS: Retching was more commonly seen in the 40-49-year age group. Onset was frequently related to an earlier dental experience and over half the sample studied had experienced previous psychological difficulties. A fear of choking or suffocation was frequently expressed, supporting a cognitive model in terms of assessment and treatment. CONCLUSION: A number of themes were identified which would be worthy of further exploration. For example, the impact of previous or existing physical health problems such as respiratory complaints, family history of retching, and prevalence of other psychological difficulties. Through participation in this study, patients were able to reach a greater awareness of this commonly encountered difficulty within dentistry.
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