Sidebar: Real-World Research
In the United States today, more than 120 primary care practice-based research networks (PBRNs) actively research health issues in communities. These include approximately 20,000 practices of pediatrics, family medicine and general internal medicine, located in all 50 states, and providing care for more than 20 million people in the U.S.
In 2005, the NIDCR established three regional practice-based research networks devoted to oral health care. Today, over 600 practices are enrolled in the NIDCR PBRN program. Collectively, their mission is to create the infrastructure for practicing dentists and dental hygienists to conduct clinical studies on a variety of pressing clinical issues in oral health care. Each network involves community dentists and hygienists that practice in more than 15 states and three Scandinavian countries.
Most PBRN members have a strong interest in restorative dentistry. To diversify the PBRN research portfolio and address a pressing public health issue, the NIDCR asked all three networks to develop and participate in a large, trans-network, case-control study on risk factors associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw. This study has been completed and the data are being analyzed in preparation for publication in the scientific literature.
Examples of other current PBRN studies include:
- Effectiveness of Complete or Partial Removal of Deep Caries
- Outcomes of Endodontic Treatment and Restoration
- Randomized Controlled Trial of Pulp Capping Materials
- Analgesic Use and Effectiveness in Dental Practice
- Salivary Markers in Caries Risk (pilot stage)
A particular strength of the networks is their ability to use flexible and adaptable common platforms for data collection, data sharing, and communication. Such interoperability provides real strength for communication within and between networks.