Dr. Heiko Spallek awarded new grant from the NIDCR

Center for Informatics in Oral Health Translational Research

Contact: Heiko Spallek, DMD, PhD, MSBA(CIS): hspallek@pitt.edu for immediate release (10/7/2014)

National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research Funds Research Project Helping Dentists to Assess Patient Interest in Quitting Smoking and Deliver a Smoking Intervention

PITTSBURGH, October 7 - The Center for Informatics in Oral Health Translational Research (CIOHTR) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, together with HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research  in Bloomington, Minnesota has received a $250,000 planning grant from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to develop “Computer-Assisted Tobacco Interventions for Dental Providers.” Dr. Brad Rindal, Senior Investigator at HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research, and Dr. Heiko Spallek, Executive Director of the Center for Informatics in Oral Health Translational Research, and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, share the role of principal investigator of the project.

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and is relevant in dentistry as a significant risk factor for gum disease and oral cancer. Funds will support the planning of a large group-randomized trial examining the degree to which dental providers will assess tobacco use and patient interest in quitting and deliver a smoking intervention more often when given computer-assisted guidance. Outcomes will be compared with providers in a control group without such assistance, as measured by a survey of current smokers with a recent dental visit. Dental providers will include both pre-doctoral and dental hygiene students in two dental schools as well as licensed dentists and dental hygienists in community-based practices across the U.S. recruited through the NIDCR-funded National Dental Practice-Based Research Network (Grant #U19-DE022516).

Providing the right information at the right time to the right person in the right format will help deliver optimal treatment for patients. While electronic records offer promise for improving care, they have been underutilized for this purpose and more commonly are designed to support billing and record keeping. This project proposes to modify two existing electronic dental record systems (EDRs) to generate personalized recommendations for dental providers to give to patients who smoke. The intervention will be integrated directly into the workflow of the patient encounter so providers can readily deliver an appropriate smoking message consistent with current evidence-based guidelines. Using EDRs to translate current evidence into clinical education and dental practice holds much potential. This project provides a template for addressing other important clinical topics and for speeding the translation of research findings into care to improve patient outcomes, a long-standing goal of the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Dr. Jean O’Donnell, who started her career as a nurse and is now Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, states that, "Nearly one in five adults still smokes cigarettes. Much progress has been made over the last 40 years, but the rate of quitting has slowed. The Healthy People 2010 objective of reducing adult smoking to less than or equal to 12 percent has not been achieved. We need new strategies to meet that goal by 2020.”

Dr. Laura Romito, Associate Professor in the Department of Oral Biology and the Director of the Nicotine Program at Indiana University School of Dentistry, and co-investigator on the project states, "A typical dental office visit is an important entry point to address tobacco use. However, providers typically have limited time to provide support and interventions related to smoking cessation, so we need to give them all the help we can get from the EDR right there when they have a patient in the chair.”

Dr. Rindal cites the Institute of Medicine’s report “Best Care at Lower Cost” when describing the research project’s underlying theme: “Although unprecedented levels of information are available, patients and clinicians often lack access to guidance that is relevant, timely, and useful for the circumstances at hand.” He adds: “We will change that!”

Post Date: 
Sunday, November 9, 2014