Newly funded research project aimed at improving dental outcomes of smokers

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Copyright: bds / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: bds / 123RF Stock Photo

A team led by Professor Heiko Spallek, from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Dentistry, and Brad Rindal from HealthPartners Institute in Minneapolis, will research the effects of computerised clinical-decision-support (CDS) systems on smoking-cessation interventions by dentists and dental hygienists.

Smoking is a primary risk factor for periodontal disease and oral cancer, and, more critically, remains the leading preventable cause of death in the US. The study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of CDS to improve brief tobacco interventions and referrals to tobacco quitlines.

The CDS will be integrated within two commonly used electronic dental-record systems that will generate personalised evidence-based recommendations for dentists and dental hygienists to actively engage their smoking patients in the course of usual dental care.

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The tobacco CDS will be tested within two dental schools: The School of Dental Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and the Indiana University School of Dentistry—as well as 16 private practice clinics from the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network.

The project aims to:

  1. Evaluate the impact of the tobacco CDS on the frequency of provider delivery of brief smoking interventions and quitline referrals
  2. Assess the impact of tobacco CDS on smokers’ cessation and reduction actions
  3. Examine providers’ barriers and facilitators to delivering the intervention, including knowledge, motivation, and self-efficacy.

The project team is made up of researchers from across a range of universities, including Harvard Medical School, University of Pittsburgh, Indiana University and the University of Sydney.

Research will begin this month and is funded until 31 July 2020 by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. To learn more about research at the Faculty of Dentistry, visit the research page.

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