Objectives: The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research funded three practice-based research networks (PBRNs), NW-PRECEDENT, PEARL and DPBRN to conduct studies relevant to practicing general dentists. These PBRNs collaborated to develop a questionnaire to assess the impact of network participation on changes in practice patterns. This report presents results from the initial administration of the questionnaire.
Methods: Questionnaires were administered to network dentists and a non-network reference group. Practice patterns including caries diagnosis and treatment, pulp cap materials, third molar extraction, dentine hypersensitivity treatments and endodontic treatment and restoration were assessed by network, years in practice, and level of network participation. Test-retest reliability of the questionnaire was evaluated.
Results: 950 practitioners completed the questionnaire. Test-retest reliability was good-excellent (kappa>0.4) for most questions. Significant differences in responses by network were not observed. The use of caries risk assessment forms differed by both network participation (p<0.001) and years since dental degree (p=0.026). Recent dental graduates are more likely to recommend third molar removal for preventive reasons (p=0.003).
Conclusions: Practitioners in the CONDOR research networks are similar to their US colleagues. As a group, however, these practitioners show a more evidence-based approach to their practice. Dental PBRNs have the potential to improve the translation of evidence into daily practice. Designing methods to assess practice change and the associated factors is essential to addressing this important issue.
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