The Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia (DHAA) Inc. has called for professional associations, educators and policy-makers to collaborate in ‘translational research’ to ensure evidenced-based research knowledge gained through continuing professional development (CPD) results in changed clinical practice.
At present, it can take 15 years for this conversion to occur. Professor Ian Chubb reported in 2012 (in a keynote address to the Bio-Melbourne Network) that, “it takes 6.3 years for evidence to reach reviews, papers and textbooks. On average it then takes an additional 9.3 years to implement evidence from reviews, papers and textbooks into clinical practice”.
The DHAA Inc. recognises the value of CPD, currently being reviewed by the Dental Board, in ensuring awareness of new science or ‘declarative knowledge’. However, CPD alone will not improve patient outcomes; a practitioner’s cognitive processes must change in order for this new knowledge to become adopted evidenced-based practice, with the ability to impact positively on patient health outcomes. This requires investment in translation research and enhanced collaboration between oral health professional associations, educational and research institutions, industry and policy makers.
Translational research refers to the implementation of new knowledge, effective use of treatments, interventions and guidelines designed for populations actuated by health care providers. Translation research is conducted in community and clinical care settings such as private and public dental clinics.
Speaking at the DHAA Inc.’s National Symposium in Perth this week, National President, Hellen Checker, encouraged a new mindset towards CPD. “Rather than viewing CPD as an obligation of registration, health professionals and associations should collaborate to enhance its value by implementing the knowledge gained. We need to address organisational inertia, infrastructure and resource constraints. If we place a high value on implementing evidenced based practice, we are more likely to see positive, measurable improvements in patient health outcomes – DHAA Inc.’s ultimate goal.”