What We Do

The primary aim of the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) is to provide user-friendly, evidence-based guidance to support dental teams' clinical and organisational decision-making and assist dental teams in providing the best possible dental care for their patients.

The increasing emphasis within healthcare on the adoption of an evidence-based approach to clinical care and treatment, and changes in the regulatory framework of healthcare provision can present challenges for dental teams. The guidance under development within SDCEP takes a variety of forms, including patient care pathways and a manual to support the running of primary care dental practices, to help dental teams meet these challenges. Within many areas of dentistry there is a lack of the type of high-quality scientific evidence that usually informs the recommendations within conventional clinical guidelines. Despite this, there is some research evidence and a wealth of expertise and specialist knowledge within dentistry upon which to draw in order to make recommendations. In other areas, documentation, including legislation, policies and guidelines, is not in a readily accessible format for dental teams. A key aim of the Programme is to evaluate the best available information that is relevant to dentistry and to translate it into a form that members of the dental profession will be able to interpret easily and implement.

For the initial phase of the Programme, the National Dental Advisory Committee (NDAC) identified seven priority areas as topics for guidance documents. For each subject area, an individual with specific expertise and a national reputation in the field was selected to chair a guidance development group to undertake the guidance development process, assisted by the Programme Development Team.

Most dental treatment is provided in primary care and thus representatives from across the dental team, including general dental practitioners, community dentists and dental care professionals (DCPs), and academics are members of the guidance development groups. Furthermore, all members of the dental team are given the opportunity to shape the content of the guidance during our consultation process. The chairs of each guidance development group also serve on the Steering Group, which oversees all of the activities of the Programme.

To maximise the impact of the guidance produced, it will be vital to employ creative dissemination and implementation methods that are themselves based on available evidence. With this in mind, the Programme is supported by NHS Education for Scotland and the three Scottish dental institutions, which will facilitate the integration of new guidance into education and training. Similarly, given the size and relative autonomy of the dental profession within Scotland, there is a realistic opportunity to implement guidance in a supportive manner and to evaluate its effectiveness to inform how best to facilitate changes in practice in the future.

Page last edited: 28 April 2010