A Guide for Developing and Enhancing Community Oral Health Programs  
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Step 6. Participate in Policy Development and Research

B. Community Oral Health Research

Another responsibility of oral health stakeholders is the development of new knowledge and the refinement of existing knowledge. Stakeholders at the community level are in a unique position to bridge the gap between the development and application of knowledge, and therefore, have a special role to play in research.

1. Research Opportunities and Benefits

Local public oral health programs often have both process and outcome data and a community perspective that would greatly benefit others if the information were published or placed in the public domain. At the local level, there is limited data and little supportive research in the literature. Therefore, it is critical to share information.

Research-related activities can generate many different types of benefits, including promoting program visibility; increasing collaboration, resources, understanding, and support from local and state oral health organizations; and enhancing or sustaining support from community organizations, funding sources, governing bodies, and decision-makers.

2. Conducting Research

In conducting research, the first step is to consider the purpose of the research. Will results improve access, availability, or utilization of care? Who are the intended audiences? What kind of data is needed, and how can it be collected? What resources are available to properly analyze and present findings? How will findings be accepted and used? It is important to ensure that involvement in research activities is consistent with program interests and the program population and that evaluation design is focused on improving oral health in the community.

It is useful to obtain help in conducting research. Dental schools may be a good resource. A list is available from the International Association for Dental Research/American Association for Dental Research, which also has information about sources of support for oral health research and a searchable database of research articles.


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Table of Contents Appendices AACDP References Home Appendices References Conclusion Step 6 Step 5 Step 4 Step 3 Step 2 Executive Summary Overview Step 1 Acknowledgements