Project title

Anxious tells: Working with patients and dentists to reveal signs and triggers of stress and anxiety in the clinic (AngST).




Dentists face the challenging task of responding to their patients’ anxieties while being under serious pressure themselves, and, in the case of trainee dentists, possibly also anxious about their competencies. Current ways to help anxiety are only moderately effective, and few have been developed together with patients or clinicians.


AngST offers a novel approach to detecting subtle signs or ’tells’ of anxiety in the dental clinic by building a partnership between patients, clinicians, filmmakers, ethnographers, researchers, and the public. It builds on a decade of work from a team of clinicians, filmmakers, and researchers at Torbay Hospital. A pilot study will be conducted using video recordings of dental treatment points to the potential value of similar approaches to dental anxiety. The interventions will be co-created by the dentist and patients through mutual observation of video recordings of dental treatment.

A methodology for filming in the dental clinic will be refined and documented and used in the production of a toolkit for reflexive training of dental clinicians that can be used beyond dental practice. From these detailed observations, we will produce categories of the emergent dynamics of anxiety that can be integrated with the training of future young dentists. We will also investigate whether giving a voice to their subjective experiences empowers anxious patients and dentists to manage their experiences better in subsequent treatment sessions.


This research aims to lead to the development of further helpful interventions for patients suffering from extreme anxiety in healthcare environments.