Finding Scientific Answers in Delivery of Healthcare Services
Research in general is to help quell the inquisitive mind; whether you do the research yourself or not, it is valuable to find answers to questions in a scientific manner with a defined methodology. In this way, research can provide society with solutions to problems and an opportunity to enhance knowledge. In public health in particular, research is a great way to gain insight into disease trends and treatments (Gostin et al., 2017). Public health research can shine a light on determinants of health, as well as health care costs and usage (Gostin et al., 2017). With a plethora of research, public health officials can make more informed decisions when forming policies.
At my dental school, the importance of research is emphasized through a specific course centered on evidence-based dentistry. We are encouraged to read good, critically appraised research, and make decisions for our patients based on the literature. An example of how this is applied is the topic of antibiotic prophylaxis – in the past, antibiotics have been vastly overprescribed, which leads to antibiotic resistance. Current research shows that there are only a few cardiac conditions that require antibiotic prophylaxis, and only for a select few procedures that manipulate the gingival tissue (ADA, 2019). This is vastly changed the way dentists have approached antibiotics, and our school encourages us to adhere by these new guidelines as a reflection of the most current research. Another area that research comes into play is that of pain management. In the past, it was not uncommon for dentists to prescribe opioids after dental surgery. However, there has been research that reveals that the combination of acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) works just as well, if not better, than opioids for managing pain (Becker, 2010). Acetaminophen and NSAIDs also incur fewer side effects, and do not run the same risk of addition that opioids do (Becker, 2010).
Research will continue to play a large role in my dental career, whether it be scientific research, or on subjects pertaining more to public health. For instance, a patient may be against the idea of fluoride, but one can easily cite one of the many research articles that show the benefits and safety of fluoride, especially in children. Or, a patient may not understand why we would choose one material over another (glass ionomer versus composite resin, for example), and we could speak to their differences, and the pros and cons of each, with confidence because research exists.
Overall, research helps any individual become closer to an expert in any respective field. Good research helps answer questions in a way that is scientific – in a way that is reproducible, with as few biases as possible – and gives the receiving party the confidence to trust a professional.
American Dental Association. (2019). Antibiotic prophylaxis prior to dental procedures. Retrieved from https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/antibiotic-prophylaxis (Links to an external site.)
Becker D. E. (2010). Pain management: Part 1: Managing acute and postoperative dental pain. Anesthesia progress, 57(2), 67–80. https://doi.org/10.2344/0003-3006-57.2.67
Gostin, L. O., Levit, L. A., & Nass, S. J. (Eds.). (2017). Beyond the HIPAA privacy rule: enhancing privacy, improving health through research. National Academies Press
Research is a key process in moving forward with different ideas. With research, new concepts are discovered, old ones are improved upon, and false claims are redacted and fixed.Furthermore, with easy access to internet, the availability of quality online research publication is now easier to access than ever before (Manohar, 2017). What this means for society is that access to quality, accurate and new information is only a few clicks away. People are able to educate themselves more than ever. They no longer have to take the word of one expert, or the news. They can go and look for information themselves to improve their knowledge on a topic. Furthermore, research has allowed people to become more informed. In the public health sector this allows people to become more involved with their most at risk communities. This can result in making true strides in helping the most vulnerable. The downfall to easy access to research is understanding where to find quality publications. The public does not always know where to look and what qualifies as quality research. As practitioner it is important to educate patients about where they can find quality information and the latest research.
One of the most important contributions research has had on public health is how policies are developed, funded, and deployed. Research allows individuals the ability to provide evidence to policy makers about the importance of certain laws. This allows for continued or increased funding for key projects. Funding is often the driving force behind many policies; with quality research, policy makers can justify increasing funds or continuing to provide funds for different public health issues (Clancy, Glied & Lurie, 2012). Since policy makers are often the driving force behind funding for public health projects, research will continue to play a major role in aiding consistent, continued funding, to improving upon new and existing projects.
Research will always play a role in current and future endeavors. For example, dental sealants are one of the most well researched and funded topics in public health dentistry (Chalmers, 2011). This means that the research that was conducted was able to convince and encourage policy makers that funding for that cause is important and beneficial for the public. However, once sealants become easily available, researchers will need to switch to other concepts about how to reduce caries and continue prevention. This means as a future practitioner, being up to date on the latest research and concepts will shape what treatment is clinical best practice and how it is delivered. If a new better product is developed or a policy changes, a practitioner needs to be aware of this. Providing affordable, quality care will always be a key component in providing care in the public sector, or any sector at all. Having access to current updated research will allow practitioners to keep delivering the best care they can.
Chalmers, N. I. (2011). Application of sealants through school-based sealant programs decreases dental caries prevalence. Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice, 11(1), 14–17. https://doi.org//10.1016/j.jebdp.2010.12.001
Clancy, C. M., Glied, S. A., & Lurie, N. (2012). From research to health policy impact. Health Services Research, 47(1pt2), 337–343. https://doi.org//10.1111/j.1475-6773.2011.01374.x
Manohar, B. (2017). Need of research. Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, 21(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.4103/jisp.jisp_246_17