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Oral health research vs oral health policy: lost in translation?


Bell, E and Crocombe, L and Barnett, A, Oral health research vs oral health policy: lost in translation?, NHMRC, 2-3 October 2013, Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre, pp. p. 64. (2013) [Conference Edited]

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Background: Evidence-based oral health policy is a priority, yet no studies exist of the congruence of evidence to policy.

Objectives: This study answered the question "How well matched is the content of research to oral health policy?"

Method: Two different samples were compared 1) 127,927 oral health abstracts published 2000-2012, indicative of all oral health research 2) 8 national government oral health policy documents from 8 OECD countries. A quantitative content analysis was performed using Bayesian-based "computational linguistics’ software to describe 1) the changing content of oral health research, by year 2) the content of policy documents, by country. The relative frequency and co-occurrence of all concepts in the two samples were mapped.

Results The study shows exactly how much and where policy content differs from research content. In the 8 policy documents, there are 20,850 instances of 73 concepts. In the 127,927 research abstracts, there are 3,386,148 instances of 142 concepts. The content of policy documents is dominated by workforce and practitioner development concepts, as well as health prevention and service development concepts, including for disadvantaged groups. In contrast, research is dominated by clinical concepts not linked to wider systemic concepts. Far from being "lost in translation", oral health research and policy are so different as to raise doubts about the ability of research to be policy-relevant or policy to be evidence-based. Implications are discussed in the context of debates and data about what research the NHMRC does and should value.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Edited
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Dentistry
Research Field:Dentistry not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Dental health
UTAS Author:Bell, E (Associate Professor Erica Bell)
UTAS Author:Crocombe, L (Associate Professor Leonard Crocombe)
UTAS Author:Barnett, A (Associate Professor Tony Barnett)
ID Code:86926
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2013-11-01
Last Modified:2014-08-12
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