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Informed consent in dental care and research for older adults reviewed in April JADA

March 27, 2017

By Michelle Manchir

Informed consent in geriatric dentistry is rarely studied or discussed, and addressing this research gap could help facilitate participation among elderly people in dental research and care, according to an article published in the April issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

The systematic review of 80 relevant articles concluded that substantial knowledge gaps exist "between the understanding and implementation of consent procedures," in the neglected topic of geriatric dental care and research of informed consent, according to the article.

"Understanding is foundational to consent," said Dr. Bruce Dye, corresponding author of the research and a dental epidemiology officer at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. "We want our patients and study participants to understand the benefits, costs and challenges of a particular dental procedure or study participation before accepting, yet we know very little about the factors that affect their decision-making."

Dr. Dye said the research's findings suggest "there is substantial work ahead of us to improve our own understanding of the factors that influence the 'informed' part of obtaining consent, including decision-making capacity and assent."

"Doing this will help us to provide dental care and conduct dental research in way that is more respectful of individuals' values and beliefs," Dr. Dye said.

The article, "Informed Consent in Dental Care and Research for the Older Adult Population: A Systematic Review," is available online now.

Other highlights of the April issue of JADA include a systematic review of strategies for improving dental health in elderly patients with cognitive impairments; a look at the gender gap in dentist earnings; and an analysis of trends over time in premiums and the number of dental insurers participating in Affordable Care Act marketplaces.

Every month, JADA articles are published online at JADA.ADA.org in advance of the print publication.