The PBRN initiative: transforming new technologies to improve patient care.
The NIDCR-supported Practice-based Research Network initiative presents dentistry with an unprecedented opportunity by providing a pathway for modifying and advancing the profession. It encourages practitioner participation in the transfer of science into practice for the improvement of patient care. PBRNs vary in infrastructure and design, and sustaining themselves in the long term may involve clinical trial validation by regulatory agencies. This paper discusses the PBRN concept in general and uses the New York University College of Dentistry's Practitioners Engaged in Applied Research and Learning (PEARL) Network as a model to improve patient outcomes. The PEARL Network is structured to ensure generalizability of results, data integrity, and to provide an infrastructure in which scientists can address clinical practitioner research interests. PEARL evaluates new technologies, conducts comparative effectiveness research, participates in multidisciplinary clinical studies, helps evaluate alternative models of healthcare, educates and trains future clinical faculty for academic positions, expands continuing education to include "benchmarking" as a form of continuous feedback to practitioners, adds value to dental schools' educational programs, and collaborates with the oral health care and pharmaceutical industries and medical PBRNs to advance the dental profession and further the integration of dental research and practice into contemporary healthcare (NCT00867997, NCT01268605).