Open Access Research article

Practices participating in a dental PBRN have substantial and advantageous diversity even though as a group they have much in common with dentists at large

Sonia K Makhija1*, Gregg H Gilbert1, D Brad Rindal2, Paul Benjamin3, Joshua S Richman4, Daniel J Pihlstrom5, Vibeke Qvist6 and the DPBRN Collaborative Group

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General Dental Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA

2 HealthPartners Dental Group and HealthPartners Research Foundation, Minneapolis, MN, USA

3 Private practitioner in Miami, FL, USA

4 Division of Preventive Medicine, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA

5 Permanente Dental Associates, Portland, OR, USA

6 Department of Cariology and Endodontics, Royal Dental College, Copenhagen, Denmark

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Oral Health 2009, 9:26  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-9-26

Published: 15 October 2009



Practice-based research networks offer important opportunities to move recent advances into routine clinical practice. If their findings are not only generalizable to dental practices at large, but can also elucidate how practice characteristics are related to treatment outcome, their importance is even further elevated. Our objective was to determine whether we met a key objective for The Dental Practice-Based Research Network (DPBRN): to recruit a diverse range of practitioner-investigators interested in doing DPBRN studies.


DPBRN participants completed an enrollment questionnaire about their practices and themselves. To date, more than 1100 practitioners from the five participating regions have completed the questionnaire. The regions consist of: Alabama/Mississippi, Florida/Georgia, Minnesota, Permanente Dental Associates, and Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden). We tested the hypothesis that there are statistically significant differences in key characteristics among DPBRN practices, based on responses from dentists who participated in DPBRN's first network-wide study (n = 546).


There were statistically significant, substantive regional differences among DPBRN-participating dentists, their practices, and their patient populations.


Although as a group, participants have much in common with practices at large; their substantial diversity offers important advantages, such as being able to evaluate how practice differences may affect treatment outcomes, while simultaneously offering generalizability to dentists at large. This should help foster knowledge transfer in both the research-to-practice and practice-to-research directions.