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Original Research

Open Access

More than just a child: dental students' perceptions of children using a mixed-method approach

  • Burak Buldur1,*,
  • Sümeyye Erdem1

1Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Sivas Cumhuriyet University, 58050 Sivas, Turkey

DOI: 10.22514/jocpd.2024.007 Vol.48,Issue 1,January 2024 pp.52-59

Submitted: 29 March 2023 Accepted: 27 June 2023

Published: 03 January 2024

*Corresponding Author(s): Burak Buldur E-mail:


It is important to understand perceptions of dental students towards children to better design relationship. This study aimed to determine and conceptualize dental students’perceptions of children. The study group consisted of 514 dental students who were asked to complete the statement “A child is like…, because…”. The metaphors were sorted into conceptual categories and examined for any significant differences between gender, education level and occupational preference. Quantitative (metaphor analysis) and qualitative (chi-square) analyses were used. Participants produced 421 metaphors under 33 general metaphors. The metaphors were collected under five conceptual categories: children as (1) requiring care, attention and sensitivity; (2) raw material; (3) developing and changing; (4) unpredictable and surprisingly; and (5) hazard. The metaphors were mostly under the “developing and changing” category. There were no significant differences between the groups in terms of gender, education level and occupational preference. Female and clinical dental students mostly produced metaphors in the “requiring care, attention and sensitivity” and “developing and changing” categories, respectively. Metaphor analysis is a useful tool in determining dental students’ perceptions. Understanding dental students’ perceptions of children can be an important part of fostering positive perceptions in their professional life.


Children; Dental students; Metaphor; Pediatric dental patients; Perceptions

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Burak Buldur,Sümeyye Erdem. More than just a child: dental students' perceptions of children using a mixed-method approach. Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry. 2024. 48(1);52-59.


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