New scientific discoveries related to dentistry and their applications in patient care are evolving at a tremendous pace. Despite these rapid advances, clinicians may be unaware of the progress being made, in part because their busy schedules often leave little time for keeping up to date with new research findings. For research to be developed and adopted into clinical practice, the process of knowledge translation (KT) must take place. KT involves many different strategies that, when coordinated, take a novel research finding and help it evolve into a real world product, system or approach that leads to an improvement in the lives and health of the public.
KT is crucial because the creation of new knowledge on its own does not automatically result in widespread implementation or adoption in health care. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has made it clear that all CIHR-funded grants must have a KT component to ensure that new knowledge is targeted to a variety of audiences. One of the major challenges in KT is finding a way to open and bridge communication channels between the groups involved in, or affected by, new research findings. Within the oral health community, effective and successful KT requires the involvement of dentists, hygienists, their respective professional associations, industry, NGOs, patients and scientists.
The Canadian Association of Dental Research (CADR) wants to engage Canadian dentists more directly in the research process to help us reach our KT goals. We feel very fortunate to have JCDA as a partner in our KT efforts to bridge the gap between Canadian oral health researchers and dentists—the front line health providers. Through JCDA’s various publication vehicles, CADR can open a dialogue with Canadian dentists to identify technology needs, existing knowledge gaps in a given field, the best way to introduce a new technology and whether a newly developed idea is, in fact, really needed. Combining the strengths of CADR’s research group with the organizational reach of CDA presents an opportunity for Canada to be a world leader in the development of oral health products and practises.
The CADR and JCDA have a common interest in trying to engage general practitioners in the KT process. Notably, in the past year KT support provided by JCDA and Dr. John O’Keefe, CDA’s director of knowledge networks, has helped generate significant oral health research funding for 2 projects: a collaborative research study involving members of the Matrix Dynamics Group at the University of Toronto’s faculty of dentistry and colleagues, and an initiative to establish the National Network for Canadian Oral Health Research. A Knowledge Translation Council has been created as part of the latter project to help Canadian dental researchers inform the profession and the public about their novel contributions. Dr. O’Keefe will be chairing this council.
I believe that these recent achievements are merely an indication of what the CADR and JCDA can accomplish together. However, for this new partnership to work we will need help from Canada’s dental community. Successful KT depends on the participation of clinicians with a desire to make improvements in their field. These clinicians should be well-read, curious and prepared to engage with research teams to transfer cutting edge science into public health and chairside tools for helping the public live longer and healthier lives.
Those interested can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email JCDA at email@example.com, briefly describing your areas of interest, experience, and possible levels of commitment for future research projects. Engagement can vary from providing feedback in questionnaires to direct interactions with research teams. I look forward to this new venture in KT with JCDA and the Canadian dental community. Let’s aim to transform the future of oral health care through timely application of research discoveries.
Click here to access a post-conference report from the 37th annual meeting of the CADR, held in Seattle, Washington, March 20-23, 2013.