Objective: To investigate development of the use of statistical methods in dental journals in 1996, 2001, and 2006 hypothesizing that methods are becoming more sophisticated.
Material and methods: All original research articles in four dental journals in 1996, 2001, and 2006 were reviewed: Journal of Dental Research (JDR), Caries Research (CR), Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology (CDOE) and Acta Odontologica Scandinavica (AOS). Evaluation covered 928 articles reporting original research findings based on systematic collection and statistical analysis of research data. Aspects measured were: research design, statistical methodology, description of procedures, and presentation of results. Percentage frequencies of reported statistical procedures were compared between journals and between years.
Results: The main findings of the study are: 1) that use of multivariate or specific methods did not increase from 1996 to 2006, 2) that traditional statistical significance testing is still widely used in dental journals and that use of confidence intervals increased in the period 1996 to 2006, 3) that statistical procedures are usually extensively described, and 4) that dental journals have different profiles in their statistical content.
Conclusions: The authors of articles in dental journals might apply these results when designing their dental research, i.e. to use statistical methods and to present results in line with the policy and presentation of the leading dental journals.