Oral healthcare professionals need to ascertain the quality of journals and to read articles critically, distinguishing good from poor research. Reading critically involves having a working knowledge of research while maintaining a healthy skepticism. Brian Burt1 describes such skepticism as "somewhere between blind acceptance and blanket distrust." Just because a study is in print or on the Internet does not mean the conclusions about a therapy or product should be accepted at face value. The art of literature criticism is a skill that can be learned, and the practice of this art will contribute to knowledge of the literature.
The oral health practitioner must continually review dental research articles to learn about new options for therapy and oral health products. How does the practitioner know when he/she should incorporate these new procedures into their practice? This continuing education course presents guidelines for critically evaluating the research and for making decisions about how to apply the research findings to clinical practice. This course builds on the previous course, "Using Research for Clinical Decision-Making: Elements of a Research Report," that describes the various components of a research report.