OBJECTIVES: The authors conducted a study to describe the general dentists, practices, patients and patient care patterns of the dental practice-based research network (PBRN) Northwest Practice-based REsearch Collaborative in Evidence-based DENTistry (PRECEDENT).
METHODS: Northwest PRECEDENT is a dental PBRN of general and pediatric dentists and orthodontists from five U.S. states in the Northwest: Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The authors collected data from general dentists in Northwest PRECEDENT (n = 101) regarding the diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases in a survey with a systematic random sample of patients (N = 1,943) visiting their practices. They also obtained demographic data from the general dentists and their patients.
RESULTS: The authors found that 50 percent of the general dentists were 51 to 60 years of age, 14 percent were female and 76 percent were non-Hispanic white. More than one-half (55 percent) of the dentists had practiced dentistry for more than 20 years, 83 percent had private solo practices and 32 percent practiced in rural community settings. The majority (71 percent) of patients visiting the dental practices was in the age range of 18 to 64 years, 55 percent were female and 84 percent were non-Hispanic white. In terms of reasons for seeking dental care, 52 percent of patients overall visited the dentist for oral examinations, checkups, prophylaxis or caries-preventive treatment. In the preceding year, 85 percent of the patients had received prophylaxis, 49 percent restorative treatments, 34 percent caries-preventive treatments and 10 percent endodontic treatments.
CONCLUSIONS: Northwest PRECEDENT general dentists are dispersed geographically and are racially and ethnically diverse, owing in part to efforts by network administrators and coordinators to enroll minority dentists and those who practice in rural areas. Estimates of characteristics of dentists and patients in Northwest PRECEDENT will be valuable in planning future studies of oral diseases and treatments.