NIDCR has made a substantial investment in Practice-Based Research Networks (PBRN). The presumed benefit of PBRNs is that participants believe the results, see them as applicable to their patients, and thus rapidly implement findings. If the benefits of participation are demonstrated, it provides a model that can be expanded to the broader dental community. The proposed study addresses this important question by examining actual care-delivery patterns of dentists, independent of a specific Dental Practice-Based Research Network (1U01 DE016747, PI: Gregg Gilbert) study. We will utilize electronic clinical data from the HealthPartners Dental Group (HPDG), including diagnosis codes, caries depths and treatment data to determine if dentists with a high level of DPBRN participation are quicker to assimilate DPBRN research in their practice. HPDG has a thorough dental record that is easily married with HealthPartners administrative data, making our setting uniquely qualified to carry out this study. Patient diagnosis and treatment data aggregated by provider will be examined in 2005, prior to the implementation of the DPBRN. We will then examine the dental practice patterns again in calendar year 2009. Also, we will evaluate the personal characteristics of dentists in calendar year 2005 among dentists who later went on to participate in DPBRN. The dentists will be stratified into three categories based on level of involvement in the DPBRN: not enrolled, enrolled but minimally involved, enrolled and involved.
This study will help to answer the question: Does participation in a Dental Practice-Based Research Network (DPBRN) that exposes dentists to evidence-based information promote changes to patient care? We will assess dentists'treatment decisions around tooth decay categorized by their level of involvement in DPBRN. We expect that providers who participate in a PBRN are more likely to use the evidence-based guidelines to treat patients with tooth decay.