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Volume 8 , Issue 1
Winter 1994

Pages 25-35

Validating the TMJ scale in a national sample of 10,000 patients: Demographic and epidemiologic characteristics


PMID: 8032327

The accuracy and reliability of the TMJ Scale were originally determined in cross-validation studies on large, research-based patient samples. It had been assumed that the demographic characteristics and test responses of these research-based samples would be representative of the clinical population in which the TMJ Scale would ultimately find use. The present study on more than 10,000 patients that were evaluated for temporomandibular disorders in clinical practice demonstrates that the test scores, demographic variables, and the patterns of symptom severity that characterize the original TMJ Scale research sample accurately represent the general temporomandibular disorder patient population in which the TMJ Scale is now being used. The results suggest a high degree of confidence in the clinical efficacy of this assessment tool. The overall symptom severity of temporomandibular disorders was found to be normally distributed in the patient population. Women with temporomandibular disorders report a higher level of severity of all physical and psychological symptoms than men. This may explain the high female-to-male ratio in patients seeking treatment. However, a higher percentage of male temporomandibular disorder patients has clinically significant psychological and stress-related problems than do women. The severity and prevalence of symptoms associated with joint dysfunction and range of motion limitation are lower in older age groups, and the overall symptom severity of temporomandibular disorders is not higher in older age groups. However, the severity and prevalence of symptoms associated with joint dysfunction are greater in groups in which temporomandibular disorders have existed for longer durations, although pain levels do not follow this trend. There is also an association between time duration of the temporomandibular disorder and the severity of psychological problems and chronicity. Patients with chronic problems are symptomatically more impaired than those with acute problems.

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