Skip to Main Content

DEN207Y/DPP111H Dental Public Health

This is a resource guide for the Doctor of Dental Surgery undergraduate courses DEN207Y: It is meant as a supplement to the library session workshop.

Identify the nature of your question

The nature of your question is very important in determining what types of resources you will use to find information. For the purposes of this assignment, we can say there are two types of clinical questions: background questions and foreground questions

Background Questions

Background questions tend to answer the question of "what?" and are descriptive in nature. They deal with foundational knowledge and such as definitions or mechanisms of actions. 

Some examples are: 

"What is chronic periodontitis?"

"What does the literature say about oral health status and income?"

"How does the laser caries detection system work?"

Foreground questions

Foreground questions directly inform clinical decision making. They are usually related to a specific clinical scenario or a patient. 

Study types

The nature of your foreground question will be a deciding factor on the study type you will seek (examples from Brignardello-Petersen et al., 2014, reproduced in Chapter 2 of your textbook):

  • therapy or prevention: questions aimed at assessing the effect of interventions on patient-important outcomes (example: “What is the effectiveness of antibiotics in preventing complications such as postoperative infections after third-molar extractions?”);

  • harm or etiology: questions aimed at evaluating how exposure to risk factors influences patient-important outcomes (example: “Does giving toddlers milk instead of water to drink at night cause caries?”);

  • diagnosis: questions aimed at assessing the performance of a test in differentiating between patients with and without a condition or disease (example: “How useful is a periapical radiograph in detecting interproximal caries?”);

  • prognosis: questions aimed at estimating a patient's future course of disease on the basis of prognostic factors (example: “Are patients with diabetes at higher risk of experiencing complications after third-molar extractions than are patients without diabetes?”).