British Dental Journal 214, 143 - 144 (2013)
Published online: 22 February 2013 | doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2013.168

Evidence transparency

D. Hurst1

Send your letters to the Editor, British Dental Journal, 64 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8YS e-mail: bdj@bda.org
Priority will be given to letters less than 500 words long. Authors must sign the letter, which may be edited for reasons of space.
Readers may now comment on letters via the BDJ website (www.bdj.co.uk). A 'Readers' Comments' section appears at the end of the full text of each letter online.

Sir, I read Martin Kelleher's opinion article (The difficulties of making 'CPD verifiability' a legitimate measure of learning outcomes; BDJ 2012;  213: 383–384) with interest. It rightly identifies the difficulty of translating new knowledge into sustained behaviour change. The field of knowledge use/implementation/translation (call it what you will) has much work to do on reliable and valid measures of process or outcomes resulting from educational interventions among many others.1

But the piece also made me think about the knowledge being imparted. After sitting through many CPD courses myself I have started to wonder what level of evidence is supporting that which I am being served up. I recently listened to an entertaining presentation in which survival rates and factors associated with success of root canal treatment were identified. As I contemplated how much effort it would take me to apply what I was being told I began to ask myself how strong the evidence was for each of the recommendations being suggested. Is it worth the effort of changing the way I manage patients if the recommendations are based on studies at high risk of bias or not on studies at all but the presenter's opinion?

I recognise that there is much that we do that is not grounded in high quality research and that we perform dentistry well despite this. There is much to be learnt from the experience of others and reflection of our own practice. But I think we need to be more transparent about the level of evidence that supports what we teach, whether it is in CPD programmes or, indeed, in the dental undergraduate curriculum.

Evidence-based guidelines and journals such as Evidence-Based Dentistry provide an example of how this can be done, though a CPD course need not go to the same detail. However, I think it is only respectful of the adult learners who attend our courses and our universities to give them the information necessary to decide on the likelihood that, should they change their behaviour, this will result in meaningful improvements for their patients.



  1. Estabrooks C A, Squires J E, Strandberg E et al. Towards better measures of research utilization: a collaborative study in Canada and Sweden. J Adv Nurs 2011; 67: 1708–1718. | Article |
  1. London

Extra navigation

Subscribe to British Dental Journal


Search PubMed for

BDJ Jobs