The Pragmatic Return to Effective Dental Infection Control Through Triage and Testing (PREDICT) Study: Protocol for a Prospective Clinical Study in the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network

JMIR Res Protoc. 2022 Aug 31;11(8):e38386. doi: 10.2196/38386.


Background: Dental practice has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As SARS-CoV-2 infection is transmitted by respiratory fluids, dental practice techniques, which include aerosol-generating procedures, can increase the risk of transmission causing heightened safety concerns for both dental health care workers (DHCWs) and patients. These concerns have resulted in the reduction in patient volume and the available workforce within dental practices across the United States. Standardized methods for COVID-19 triage and testing may lead to increased safety and perceptions of safety for DHCWs and their patients and promote willingness to provide and access oral health care services.

Objective: This study is designed to develop procedures that test the feasibility of enhanced COVID-19 triage and testing in dental offices. It will provide preliminary data to support a larger network-wide study grant application aimed at developing protocols to address safety concerns of patients and DHCWs in a peri-COVID-19 pandemic era.

Methods: The feasibility study is being conducted in 4 private dental practices, each of which has a dentist member of the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network. Participants include the DHCWs and patients of the dental practice. Study procedures include completion of COVID-19 triage, completion of COVID-19 testing (point-of-care [POC] or laboratory-based [LAB] SARS-CoV-2 viral, antigen, and antibody tests based on office designation), and administration of perception and attitude surveys for participating DCHWs and patients of the dental practice over a defined study period. The office designation and the participant's role in the practice determines which testing protocol is executed within the office. There are 4 study groups following 4 distinct protocols: (1) POC DHCWs, (2) POC patients, (3) LAB DHCWs, and (4) LAB patients.

Results: Data collection began in December of 2021 and concluded in March 2022. Study results are expected to be published in fall 2022.

Conclusions: The results of this feasibility study will help identify the viability and functionality of COVID-19 triage and testing in dental practices and inform a larger network-wide study grant application that develops protocols that address safety concerns of patients and DHCWs in a COVID-19 environment.

Trial registration: NTC05123742;

International registered report identifier (irrid): DERR1-10.2196/38386.

Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 testing; COVID-19 triage; National Dental Practice–Based Research Network; PBRN; SARS-CoV-2; dental health; dental healthcare staff; dental practice; dentist; dentistry; feasibility study; health care; healthcare professional safety; patient safety; safety.

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