Systematic review of the effectiveness of continuing dental professional development on learning, behavior, or patient outcomes

Victoria Firmstone, Karen M Elley, Magdalena T Skrybant, Anne Fry-Smith, Susan Bayliss, Carole J Torgerson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This study is based on a systematic review of studies using a randomized controlled trial or quasi-experimental design in order to synthesize existing evidence evaluating the effectiveness of continuing professional development (CPD) interventions in dentistry on learning gains, behavior change, or patient outcomes. The authors searched a range of electronic databases from 1986 to the present and screened all potentially relevant studies for inclusion, using pre-established inclusion/exclusion criteria. Following data extraction and quality appraisal of all included studies, a narrative synthesis of the studies was undertaken. Ten studies (in fourteen articles) were included. All were evaluation studies of CPD interventions targeted exclusively at dentists. The ten included studies evaluated a range of interventions: courses/workshops, written information, CAL, audit/self-reflection, face-to-face support, and black box combinations of these interventions. Two high- and moderately high-quality studies evaluated CAL CPD for dentists and found equivocal impact of CAL for dentists. A black box combination of interventions was rigorously evaluated and showed moderate impact on patient care. This finding suggests that multimethod and multiphased CPD has potential for the greatest impact. There is a need for more high-quality randomized controlled trials evaluating CPD interventions in dentistry. It is important that future evaluations of CPD interventions clarify the nature of the interventions such that they are explicit and replicable and that appropriate outcomes are selected (health of patients and change in practice or behavior as well as knowledge and understanding) in order to move the evidence base of effective practice forward in this area of dental education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-15
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • Dentist's Practice Patterns
  • Dentistry
  • Education, Dental, Continuing
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Feedback
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Program Evaluation
  • Publications
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Teaching
  • Treatment Outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)
  • Education


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