Dental Hypotheses

: 2017  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 55--56

Evidence-based policymaking and contemporary dental researches

Jafar Kolahi 
 Independent Research Scientist, Founder and Managing Editor of Dental Hypotheses, Isfahan, Iran

Correspondence Address:
Jafar Kolahi
N0 24, Faree 15, Pardis, Shahin Shahr, Isfahan - 83179 18981

How to cite this article:
Kolahi J. Evidence-based policymaking and contemporary dental researches.Dent Hypotheses 2017;8:55-56

How to cite this URL:
Kolahi J. Evidence-based policymaking and contemporary dental researches. Dent Hypotheses [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 May 21 ];8:55-56
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We are generally familiar with the term “evidence-based dentistry” in which the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews, and meta-analyses are used as the support for clinical decision making. On the other hand, evidence-based policymaking is not well-known among dental research community and policymakers. A simple search of dental journals via the PubMed query “(Evidence-based [All Fields] AND policymaking [All Fields]) AND jsubsetd[text]” revealed zero results.

Nevertheless, what is evidence-based policymaking? According to Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative: “Policymakers should use the best available research and information at all stages of the policy process and in each branch of government.”[1]

Evidence-based policymaking has four principles:[2]Build and compile rigorous evidence about what works, including costs and benefits.Monitor program delivery and use impact evaluation to measure program effectiveness.Use rigorous evidence to improve programs, scale what works, and redirect funds away from consistently ineffective programs.Encourage innovation and test new approaches.

Nowadays, evidence-based policymaking is the cornerstone of scientific agenda, and research scientists want to support bridge the evidence-policy gap.[3] Of more interest, the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2005 stablished Evidence-Informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) to encourage the systematic use of health research findings in policymaking.[4]

Nevertheless, previous reports indicated that evidence-based policymaking is not common in dentistry.[5],[6] In this study, contemporary dental literature was analyzed. On May 27 2017, dental literature was explored using the PubMed query “1800/1/1”[PDAT]: “2017/12/31” [PDAT] AND jsubsetd[text]. A total of 581,896 PubMed results were found, of which the most recent 25,000 results were included in this cross-sectional survey. To find and investigate relevant policy documents, Altmetric database (Altmetric LLP, London, UK) was employed.[7] Disappointingly, only 52 articles were found which were cited by 17 policy documents. In other words, only 0.2% of dental articles were used for evidence-based policymaking. First evidences of dental evidence-based policymaking have been raised from June 2015 [Figure 1], reflecting this as a new and emerging concept in dentistry. Results of this survey showed that among different institutions, the Association Scientific Medical Societies in Germany had the most number of mentions (67%) [Figure 2]. Moreover, International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Clinical Oral Investigations had the most number of mentions among different journals [Figure 3]. Ninety percent of the articles cited by policy documents had an Altmetric score between 3 and 17.{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}

Furthermore, the current gap between dental research and dental health policy is not acceptable and should be bridged. To develop evidence, scientists need to conduct time consuming clinical trials to create knowledge and present it in a form that is understandable for policymakers who necessarily do not think as scientists. On the other hand, policymakers at many levels of government can only gather limited information before making emotional and quick decisions known as “bounded rationality”[3] Further, there is no clear point in the “policy cycle” at which scientists can inject evidence.[3] To overcome these paradoxes scientists need to pay more attention to demand for evidence, and policymakers must do their best to consider the best available evidences in policy process. However, despite several difficulties, evidence-based policymaking can provide favorable result for community health. The “Philadelphia Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax” would be a good example.[8] As a final point, researchers and journal editors must pay more attention to this concept which has direct influence on public health.


I would like to thank Mrs. Stacy Konkiel from Altmetric LLP (London, U.K) for her valuable assistance.


1Vanlandingham G, Silloway T, Chang V et al. Evidence-Based Policymaking. A guide for effective government. The Pew Charitable Trusts Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative.∼/media/assets/2014/11/evidencebasedpolicymakingaguideforeffectivegovernment.pdf. Published 2014. [Last accessed on November 30, 2016].
2Principles of Evidence-Based Policymaking. Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative. [Last accessed on June 3,2017].
3The politics of evidence-based policymaking. Science − The Guardian. 2016 /mar/10/the-politics-of-evidence-based-policymaking. [Last accessed on June 3, 2017].
4What is Evidence-Informed Policy-making and EVIPNet? WHO. 2016. [Last accessed on June 3,2017].
5Kolahi J, Khazaei S. Altmetric: Top 50 dental articles in 2014. BDJ 2016;220:569-74.
6Kolahi J, Iranmanesh P, Khazaei S. Altmetric analysis of 2015 dental literature: A cross sectional survey. BDJ 2017;222:695-9.
7Konkiel S. What can altmetrics tell us about interest in dental clinical trials? Dent Hypotheses 2017;8:31.
8Purtle J, Langellier BL, Scherban F. A Case Study of the Philadelphia Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Policymaking Process. J Public Heal Manag Pract 2017:1.