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Keywords:

  • dentists;
  • evidence-based practice;
  • primary dental care;
  • research

Hopper L, Morris L, Tickle M. How primary care dentists perceive and are influenced by research. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2011; 39: 97–104. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S

Abstract –  Introduction:  Little is understood as to how primary care dentists alter their clinical practice.

Aim:  To develop an understanding of how primary care dentists view and use research to inform their clinical practice.

Methods:  An iterative approach was followed using two methods of data collection. A focus group was undertaken with dentists and researchers who had been involved in primary care dental research. Subsequently phased, qualitative interviews were undertaken with primary care dentists with a range of research experiences. Focus group and interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Six people participated in the focus group. Eighteen dentists participated in the interviews. Interviews were undertaken in four phases until saturation was achieved. Data were analysed using constant comparison.

Findings:  Evidence-based dentistry was considered the ideal. However, the research base for primary care dentistry was thought to lag behind clinical services, to focus on incorrect endpoints, to disregard the patients’ voice and failed to consider the impact of conducting research on dental practices. Dentists modified their clinical practice based upon research, colleagues’ opinions, courses and ad hoc personal evaluation. Uptake of research was affected by the ethos of the practice, which determined whether the dentists were early or late adopters of research and financial viability of new interventions.

Conclusion:  Dentists wanted concise, timely evidence-based guidance to aid their management of patients. Further research needs to be undertaken to understand how to develop an evidence-based culture in primary dental care.