Evidence-Based Dentistry Lagging in Dental Schools



Evidence-based dentistry, which balances the dentist’s experience and patient’s needs with available scientific evidence, is gaining ground in clinical practice. Yet it is still struggling to gain a foothold in today’s dental schools, according to a survey from the University of Pittsburgh.

In 2014, the researchers sent surveys to all 65 dental schools in the United States, asking them about policies and procedures that facilitate the implementation of evidence-based clinical guidelines. Only 38 of the schools, or 58%, responded.

Only 2 of the 9 policies and procedures described in the survey were fully implemented by 50% or more of the schools that responded. These 2 included guidelines that were supported through clinical faculty education or were available chairside (50%) and informing students of guidelines in both the classroom and clinic (65.8%).

Additionally, 92% of the respondents reported having an electronic health record, yet 80% of them weren’t using it to track compliance with guidelines. Five of the schools reported implementing more policies than the rest of the schools. And while most of the schools did not follow best practices in implementing guidelines, 5 schools reported exemplary sets of policies and procedures to support guideline implementation.

Though most schools aren’t effectively or efficiently implementing guidelines for evidence-based dentistry, the researchers concluded that comprehensive implementation programs are possible since some schools have been able to do so. The researchers also suggest future studies to determine if interventions to improve implementation are necessary.

The study, “Policies and Procedures That Facilitate Implementation of Evidence-Based Clinical Guidelines in U.S. Dental Schools,” was published by the Journal of Dental Education.

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