Title: Science Policy: A Qualitative Assessment of Awareness for Dental Research
Linda Kaste (Presenter)
University of Illinois at Chicago
Objectives: Science Policy (SP) arose in the United States after WWII. SP is gaining momentum in biomedical research (e.g., Cancer Moonshot and Brain Initiative). Yet, its appearance in dental research is elusive. This qualitative study assessed researchers’ awareness of SP as a potential tool for optimizing dental research.
Methods: A semi-structured questionnaire captured from a convenience sample of dental (36) and non-dental (2) researchers (chosen for diversity of demographics, seniority and research type), their opinions/awareness on SP aspects including definition, research prioritization, and SP leadership. (UIC IRB #2017-0293 exempt.)
Results: Respondents defined research similarly: “the conduct of an investigation using scientific methods to answer a specific question.” Definitions of SP differed: ranging from “never heard the term” to a focused “Policy that impacts the conduct, dissemination and application of science”. Nonetheless, 75% reported using SP. “Oral health disparities among the aged” and “dental caries” were the only oral health conditions rated “very serious problems” by >50% of the respondents, whereas 87% supported inclusion of oral health in future health initiatives. Most (79%) recommended science evolution through a balance of investigator-initiated and initiative-directed research. Indications of challenges for the future of dental research included limited perception of dentistry as a premier science-based healthcare profession (ranked not top 3 by 58%) and mixed reactions about whether all dental schools (66% said yes) and all dental faculty members should be involved in dental research (58% said no). There was not consistency with whom respondents saw as dental SP organizational leaders; NIDCR, AADR, and ADA were the top three among 29 organizations listed.
Conclusions: This qualitative assessment provides initial insight for Dental Research SP awareness. While knowledge and definition of SP varied, recognition for the need of SP aspects exists and warrants further study for optimizing science and science productivity for dentistry.