Bulletin of Dental Education

ADEA Journal of Dental Education Article Offers New Data on Information-Seeking Behaviors of Dental Practitioners

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A new study published in this month’s ADEA Journal of Dental Education (JDE) reveals dental practitioners’ reliance on practice-based research networks (PBRNs), and a wide range of educational resources, for determining practice guidance. The article “Information-Seeking Behaviors of Dental Practitioners in Three Practice-Based Research Networks,” by Maria T. Botello-Harbaum, Ed.D., M.S., et al., is the result of an exciting collaboration between dental educators and practitioners in a National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research-funded project.

“Dentistry is changing from primarily a procedure-based health care profession to a diagnostic risk-based profession; as a result, the methods to seek dental evidence-based information have diversified over the years,” explains Dr. Botello-Harbaum, Outreach Manager of the EMMES Corporation. “There is little information on how evidence-based sources can enhance clinical practice and contribute to decision-making.”

Faced with this scarcity of data, the article’s authors conducted an assessment of self-reported information-seeking behaviors of 950 participating dentists in three PBRNs. Ultimately, researchers concluded that dentists get a wide range of information from a wide range of information outlets, suggesting the need for a very broad approach in information dissemination aimed at practitioners.

Gregg Gilbert, D.D.S., M.B.A., article co-author and Professor and Chair of the Department of Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry, describes a specific “knowing” gap that currently exists between effective treatments that have been scientifically proven and practitioners’ awareness of those treatments.  According to Dr. Gilbert, addressing this research-practice gap could lead the dental community one step closer to eliminating other obstacles in both knowledge and implementation.

“The take-home message of this study is that we need to use a wide range of information outlets when we target dental practitioners,” says Dr. Gilbert.  “I wish it were easy.”

Still, a few additional trends emerged in the study.  For instance, on average, dentists prefer to get information from printed academic journals, though experienced dentists read other dental information sources more frequently than dentists with fewer years of experience. Overall, dental PBRNs appear to play a significant role in the dissemination of evidence-based information.

“Dentistry is still made up of private practitioners, 71% of whom are isolated from their peers,” adds Dr. Botello-Harbaum. “Where they get their information makes them discriminating, more likely to accept change, and more likely to incorporate change based on evidence.”

Access the full article at  www.jdentaled.org . To learn more about the ADEA Journal of Dental Education, visit  www.adea.org.

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