NIH – Devonshire Quarter Dental Practice, Sheffield. Pictured Amy Gough (7), with dentist Kathryn Houlding.

Aims and objectives of the Oral and Dental Health Priority Setting Partnership (PSP)

The aim of the PSP is to identify the unanswered questions related to Oral and Dental Health from patient and clinical perspectives and then prioritise those that patients and clinicians agree are the most important.

The objectives of the PSP are:

  • To work with patients, lay people and clinicians to identify uncertainties related to interventions to improve oral health and/or reduce oral health inequalities.
  • to agree by consensus a prioritised list of those uncertainties, for future research
  • to publicise the results of the PSP and process
  • to take the results to research commissioning bodies to be considered for funding

Focus of the PSP

The interventions might include policies, health promotion, diagnosis, treatment, service delivery and psychological interventions and may or may not also improve general health.

As NIHR is an NHS organisation the priorities will relate to health promotion, prevention and NHS oral care.

Given the broad range and universal experience of oral disease, the PSP will not be structured around particular diseases but will focus on three population groups:

  • Children and young people
  • Adults
  • People requiring special care and older people

These three groups may overlap.

Background to the Oral and Dental Health PSP

The James Lind Alliance (JLA) is an initiative which is coordinated by the National Institute for Health Research Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC). Its aim is to provide an infrastructure and process to help patients and clinicians work together to agree which are the most important treatment uncertainties affecting their particular interest, in order to influence the prioritisation of future research in that area. The JLA defines an uncertainty as a “known unknown” – in this case relating to the effects of treatment.

The Oral and Dental Health PSP was instigated from observations that few large scale clinical studies were being conducted in the UK (as evidenced by the size of the NIHR Oral and Dental Portfolio), that much oral and dental research in this area was fragmented and could be more ambitious, collaborative and multi-centre.  There was also a perception that Oral and Dental Research was not prioritised by research funders and that funding calls could be better targeted to key areas.

Exclusion criteria

The following areas of research are excluded:

  • The treatment of oral cancer after diagnosis (general oral health care of people with cancer may be included in the PSP)
  • Causes and mechanisms of disease
  • Comparisons or biomedical evaluations of orthodontic treatment will be excluded. However, the individual and societal costs and benefits of orthodontic care may be included, as may be dental prevention and treatment of people with oro-facial clefts.
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