Caries treatment in a dental practice-based research network: movement toward stated evidence-based treatment

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Abstract

Objectives

Practice-based research networks (PBRNs) provide a venue to foster evidence-based care. We tested the hypothesis that a higher level of participation in a dental PBRN is associated with greater stated change toward evidence-based practice.

Methods

A total of 565 dental PBRN practitioner-investigators completed a baseline questionnaire entitled ‘Assessment of Caries Diagnosis and Treatment'; 405 of these also completed a follow-up questionnaire about treatment of caries and existing restorations. Certain questions (six treatment scenarios) were repeated at follow-up a mean (SD) of 36.0 (3.8) months later. A total of 224 were ‘full participants' (enrolled in clinical studies and attended at least one network meeting); 181 were ‘partial participants' (did not meet ‘full' criteria).

Results

From 10% to 62% of practitioners were ‘surgically invasive' at baseline, depending on the clinical scenario. Stated treatment approach was significantly less invasive at follow-up for four of six items. Change was greater among full participants and those with a more-invasive approach at baseline, with an overall pattern of movement away from the extremes.

Conclusions

These results are consistent with a preliminary conclusion that network participation fostered movement of scientific evidence into routine practice. PBRNs may foster movement of evidence into everyday practice as practitioners become engaged in the scientific process.

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