Advantages of the dental practice-based research network initiative and its role in dental education.
Practice-based research networks (PBRNs) provide a novel venue in which providers can increase their knowledge base and improve delivery of care through participation in clinical studies. This article describes some aspects of our experience with a National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research-supported PBRN and discusses the role it can play in dental education. PBRNs create a structured pathway for providers to advance their professional development by participating in the process of collecting data through clinical research. This process allows practitioners to contribute to the goals of evidence-based dentistry by helping to provide a foundation of evidence on which to base clinical decisions as opposed to relying on anecdotal evidence. PBRNs strengthen the professional knowledge base by applying the principles of good clinical practice, creating a resource for future dental faculty, training practitioners on best practices, and increasing the responsibility, accountability, and scope of care. PBRNs can be the future pivotal instruments of change in dental education, the use of electronic health record systems, diagnostic codes, and the role of comparative effectiveness research, which can create an unprecedented opportunity for the dental profession to advance and be integrated into the health care system.