Research project

Behave Programme

This programme works with Universities of Glasgow and St Andrews

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Start date

December 2007



Scottish Government


HIC Data Management

BEHAVE 2 examines the types of communication strategies used by dental health professionals when interacting with and providing fluoride varnish and oral health advice to children with their parents.

This programme of research adopts a consecutive mixed-method study design. It uses a video-observational research designs which allows for the direct observation of communication between participants.

The research utilises a detailed coding and sequential analysis approach to devise a comprehensive model of triadic communication and treatment alliance amongst three actors, namely; child dental patient, parent and dental health professional.

This research brings together the disciplines of Dental Public Health (Professor Ruth Freeman), Communication research (Dr Siyang Yuan) and Health Psychology (Professor Gerry Humphris) to explore the communication strategies used in the care of the child dental patient and their parents

Children react to dental treatment in various ways. Their responses to dental treatment are dependent upon their understanding and imaginings of what the treatment means to them, which is determined by their phase of psychological development.

An essential factor in the child's acceptance of dental treatment is the formation of the treatment alliance which is forged through the relationship with the parent and the parent's interaction with the dental health professional. The importance of understanding the communication elements of the triadic treatment alliance (between child-parent-health professional) is at the centre of successful dental treatment provision for child patients.

Aims and objectives

The aim of BEHAVE 2 is to assess the feasibility of conducting a video observational study in primary dental care and to assess the communication behaviours of dental professionals and those of the parents to predict child cooperation when receiving preventive dental treatments using a video observational study design


To improve pre-school children's acceptance of preventive dental treatments and to develop communication training strategies for dental health professionals working in primary dental care with pre-school children and their families.


Project lead(s)

Professor Ruth Freeman

External team members

School of Medicine, University of St Andrews 

  • Professor Gerry Humphris (Professor in Health Psychology)

School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, University of Glasgow

  • Professor Lorna Macpherson (Professor of Dental Public Health)
  • Dr Alistair Ross (Senior Lecturer in Human Factors in Healthcare)

Project team

Dr Siyang Yuan

Related groups

School of Dentistry

Project type

Research project