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Evidence-based dentistry

ADA/Forsyth Institute course attracts diverse group of dental professionals

January 07, 2013

By Jean Williams, ADA News staff

Cambridge, Mass.—They were orthodontists, endodontists, prosthodontists and general dentists. They were professors, associate professors, instructors and lecturers. They were chairmen, senior partners, deputy directors and directors.

And they all had one goal: learn the primary aspects of evidence-based dentistry.

All 40 participants made inroads to that end when they attended the ADA/Forsyth Institute’s 2012 EBD Course Nov. 5-9. The course is a collaboration of the ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry and the Forsyth Institute, where the interactive program has taken place since 2009.

Dr. Cheng
The weeklong course reaches for a comfortable mean in imparting the basics of EBD to participants with varying frames of reference for practice.

“Roughly half are private practitioners and the other half are in academia,” said Dr. Elliot Abt, who has taught biostatistics at the ADA Forsyth course since its inception. “The participants in academia are department chairs, some in public health or epidemiology. They may have a strong background in methodology and statistical analysis, while others would not.”

Dr. Abt, who is also a member of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, indicated that participants are introduced to the rigors of vetting scientific literature in order to translate research findings into clinical practice.

“When it comes to research design and statistics, the Forsyth course is not really about how to design a research project or run statistical tests,” Dr. Abt said. “It’s much more focused on how to interpret the methodology and statistics that are used in a paper. So if one reads a randomized trial, a systematic review or an observational study, the questions might be, 'What methods were used? Was this an appropriate study design? Were the statistical tests appropriate? And, how does one interpret and apply the results to my clinical practice or academic environment?’ “

Other EBD instructors included course leaders Dr. Richard Niederman, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry at the Forsyth Institute; Dr. Derek Richards, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry at Oxford University; and Julie Frantsve-Hawley, Ph.D., senior director of the ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry. They lectured on EBD topics such as question formulation, critical appraisal of diagnostic tests, MEDLINE searching and citation management, and systematic reviews and meta analysis.

The ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry defines EBD as “an approach to oral health care that requires the judicious integration of systematic assessments of clinically relevant scientific evidence, relating to the patient’s oral and medical condition and history, with the dentist’s clinical expertise and the patient’s treatment needs and preferences.”

The course was open to all dentists, members of the dental team, educators and researchers from both the United States and the international community.

“EBD is changing our profession, redefining what true informed consent is with current relevant evidence disclosed for each individual patient,” said participant Dr. Linda Cheng, an assistant professor in the Department of General Dentistry at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry.

“The course was an incredible opportunity to meet other colleagues from all different backgrounds, all different regions of the United States, and all over the world. I am grateful to the ADA for making this course possible and that I had an opportunity to take part in it.”

The Forsyth Institute, which is affiliated with Harvard University, was founded more than a century ago to provide charitable dental care to children in Boston. Today it is dedicated to promoting oral health through research and education.

Participants earned continuing education credits from the ADA and a certificate in EBD from the Forsyth Institute.

For more information about the 2013 ADA and Forsyth Institute EBD course, set for Oct. 14-18, visit the ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry website.