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EBD Champions return for new tools to implement science in practice

June 16, 2014

by Jean Williams

 image of Dr. Steven Novella
Dr. Steven Novella
At the ADA's retooled annual evidence-based dentistry conference, past EBD "Champions" learned a thing or two on how to breakout to break through.

Organizers designed the 2014 EBD Champions 2.0 Conference: Implementing Science in Practice, held May 9 at ADA Headquarters, so that dental professionals could build on basic EBD knowledge by way of breakout-sessions that delved deeper into the evidence evaluation and the chairside aspects of EBD. Past conference attendees, known as Champions, as well as new participants had their choice of concurrent practical workshops.

More than 170 dental professionals attended the conference to also hear a lineup of experts address evidence vetting and chairside applications, including keynote speaker Dr. Steven Novella. Dr. Novella is a neurologist and assistant professor at the Yale University School of Medicine who also hosts and produces "The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe," a weekly science podcast, and is the founder and executive editor of Science-Based Medicine,  an organization dedicated to evaluating medical treatments and products of interest to the public.

Dr. Novella's address "Why Is Science-Based Medicine Important?" touched upon a range of related EBD topics. He addressed bias in both the literature and in the clinician. For those who don't bother with evidence and instead favor anecdotal experience, the word from Dr. Novella was that good clinicians take care to filter their experience through some sort of critical appraisal of scientific evidence.

"People are actually at their peak of evidence-based practice right out of training," he said. "Then two things happen. They get more experience and they get better and better at the gestalt kind of approach, but they also get further away from the evidence. They get worse and worse at the analytical approach."

Providing a new layer of food for thought on assessing scientific literature, Dr. Novella also shared instances where journals failed to filter poor evidence, including times when bogus studies made their way into print. His point was: all evidence is not created equally so robust skills in critical appraisal are significant tools.

One way that conference participants learned to apply the kind of critical appraisal skills discussed at EBD Champions 2.0 was through hands-on activities, such as reading  a published systematic review and critically evaluating the results. There also were discussions of the meaning of clinical significance in terms of how clinicians make the leap from published research to chairside care.

Conference feedback shows that participants took to heart Dr. Novella's message about applying appropriate skepticism to evidence. Said one: "EBD 2.0 was a huge leap over 1.0 with a lot of thought-provoking lectures. I particularly liked Dr. Steven Novella and Marko Vujicic's presentations, although all were good."

Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., is chief economist and managing vice president of the ADA Health Policy Institute. He addressed "How to Implement Science in Policy."
Veteran EBD Champions conference speaker Dr. Robert Weyant, professor and chair of the Department of Dental Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, addressed overcoming barriers to implementing EBD and developing implementation tools and strategies.

Other noted speakers included Drs. Elliot Abt, Janet Clarkson, Robert Compton, Jason Luchtefeld, Partha Mukherji, Daniel Pihlstrom, Grant Ritchey, Heiko Spallek and J. Leslie Winston; and Ronald Dailey, Ph.D.; Douglas Landsittel, Ph.D., John Rugh, Ph.D.; and Paul Stark, Ph.D.

ADA EBD Center staff speakers included Julie Frantsve-Hawley, Ph.D.; Sharon Tracy, Ph.D.; and Erica Vassilos.

Procter & Gamble Co. supported EBD Champions 2.0 with a generous financial contribution.
For more information about future EBD conferences, contact Erica Vassilos, senior manager, ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry, at ext. 2523 or email vassilose@ada.org.