To introduce dental hygienists (DHs) in the UK to the principles of research through a practice-based product evaluation programme.
The programme consisted of an initial training and orientation day with presentations on evidence-based practice, research methods and the structure of research papers. The programme and its aims were explained in detail, and participants were briefed on the methods to be used. Participants then recruited seven to ten patients from their practices (offices), carried out a baseline assessment of: plaque, gingival health, calculus and staining at anterior teeth, and gave the patients a questionnaire asking about their teeth and then provided a 3-month supply of a test toothpaste. About 10 weeks later, a follow-up assessment of the same variables was performed and the questionnaire was repeated. A second training day followed during which the DHs provided feedback of their experiences and received training in literature searching and critical appraisal of literature including interpretation of results.
Sixty-five DHs attended the first training day; 31 were able to recruit sufficient patients and attend the second training day. The DHs recruited 168 patients who received baseline and follow-up assessments. All the variables improved overall. Feedback from the DHs was very positive, and patients expressed delight with the care they had received.
Qualitative feedback for participating DHs suggests the programme met its aim and could be used in the future as a mechanism for helping DHs who want to increase their understanding of research methodology.