The goal of this K08 award is for Dr. Kearns, a dentist scientist at the University of California, San Francisco, to gain support and training to become an independent investigator focused on translational research that encourages the use of evidence-based public health interventions to promote oral and overall health. Excess added sugars consumption leads to increased risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dental caries. While various evidence-based policies and programs have been developed to reduce sugar consumption in multiple-settings, to date, these strategies have not been widely adopted. The dental profession, comprised of numerous stakeholders (e.g., dental organizations, dental leaders, dentists), has the potential to help close this evidence to policy gap. Similar to efforts to support community water fluoridation, the dental profession can encourage innovative solutions to dental caries by engaging in sugar reduction policy dissemination (SRPD) behaviors (e.g., preparing issue briefs, publishing consensus statements, conducting policy research and surveillance, engaging with state coalitions, doing media outreach, and delivering office- based communication, among others.) However, dentist stakeholder involvement in sugar reduction policy and program dissemination is low. The overarching objective of this K08 proposal is to facilitate implementing an evidence-based intervention designed to increase dentist stakeholder engagement in SRPD. This K08 project aims to identify barriers and facilitators to dentist stakeholders' involvement in SRPD and to develop and pilot test an intervention that will increase dentists' SRPD behaviors. A carefully devised training plan will allow the candidate to gain expertise in dissemination and implementation (D&I) science, in-depth interviews and focus groups, quantitative methods and survey statistics, policy-relevant experimental methods to foster provider behavior change, and in grantwriting. Training goals will be achieved through rigorous mentorship from experts, graduate-level coursework, and advanced professional development activities. The proposed research project is congruent with training goals.
Aim 1 includes an analysis of sugar industry public relations campaigns to identify the techniques used to influence dentist stakeholders' SRPD behaviors.
Aim 2 -Study A includes in- depth interviews with dentist leaders to identify facilitators and barriers to SRPD behaviors and to help identify questionnaire items for Aim 2-Study B, a large, nationally representative-survey of US licensed dentists to determine the relationship between drivers of SRPD behaviors and actual SRPD behaviors.
Aim 3 involves developing and pilot testing an intervention strategy to change dentist stakeholders SRPD behaviors. The long-term objective of this research is to speed the translation of the US Dietary Guidelines added sugar recommendation into policy and practice. This award will complement the candidate's existing strengths by providing training in new domains and will prepare her for an independent research career in D&I science to improve oral health.
Over half of the US population consumes more added sugars than is recommended by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The proposed research is relevant to public health because it will identify theory-based interventions with the potential to increase the proportion of dentists involved in the dissemination and implementation of sugar reduction policies and programs for dental caries prevention. Thus, the proposed research is relevant to NIDCR's mission to improve dental, oral, and craniofacial health through research, research training, and the dissemination of health information.