Background: The randomized case presentation (RCP) study is designed to assess the degree of diagnostic accuracy for described periodontal cases. This is to lay the basis for practitioner calibration in the Practitioners Engaged in Applied Research and Learning (PEARL) Network for future clinical studies.
Methods: The RCP consisted of 10 case scenarios ranging from periodontal health to gingivitis and mild, moderate, and severe periodontitis. Respondents were asked to diagnose the described cases. Survey diagnoses were compared to two existing classifications of periodontal disease status. The RCP was administered via a proprietary electronic data capture system maintained by the PEARL Data Coordinating Center. Standard analytic techniques, including frequency counts and cross-tabulations, were used for categorical data with mean and standard deviation and median values reported for continuous data elements.
Results: Demonstrable variations in periodontal assessment for health, gingivitis, and mild, moderate, and severe periodontitis were found among the 130 PEARL general practitioners who participated in the RCP survey. The highest agreement for diagnosis among dentists was for severe periodontitis (88%) and the lowest for gingivitis (55%). The highest percentage of variation was found in cases with health and gingivitis.
Conclusions: There was variation among PEARL practitioners in periodontal diagnosis that may affect treatment outcomes. Our findings add clinical support to recent publications suggesting a need for standardization of terminology in periodontitis diagnosis.