An interview with the editor Nicola Innes Deputy Editor Following the recent announcement that

was then the Dean at the Faculty of

the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry

General Dental Practitioners, David

is relocating to the University of Dundee

Sackett and myself. It was my first large

Dental School’s Dental Health Services

public engagement experience because

Research Unit, I took the opportunity to

there were people from the Department

catch up with Derek Richards, who is the

of Health, people from the Faculty and

Director of the Centre. Derek is internation-

a range of the great and good in den-

ally renowned for his expertise in evidence-

tistry who had been invited along. It

based dentistry and regularly supports a

was as part of the workshop, discuss-

range of dental evidence teaching initia-

ing the next steps for Evidence-Based

tives around the world. I wanted to ask the

Dentistry, that it was agreed that two

man who helped establish the Centre for

of those key steps were establishing the

Evidence-based Dentistry almost 20 years

Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry

ago, and this journal, a few questions about

and developing a Journal in Evidence-

how he got started.

Based Dentistry. So those were the initial stages: we then, in 1995, invited

NI Derek, can you tell us a little bit about

representatives to form a steering group

how you got interested in Evidence-

which included the Postgraduate Dean,

Based Dentistry?

Dave Sackett and Muir Gray - quite a

DR It all started when I was doing my spe-

powerful group.

Derek Richards

ciality in dental public health training. My lead trainer, Alan Lawrence, at the time had just finished developing a regional oral health strategy with Muir



DR When I was working in Oxford, after

Dentistry came about as part of that

finishing my training there, I got a

whole process then?

Consultant post in Berkshire, but we




Gray, at that time Regional Director

DR Yes, we worked through a series of meet-

worked very closely across the Oxford

of Public Health in Oxford, and they

ings with Mike Grace, who was then the

region, and then because of changes

decided that now there was a specialist

Editor of the British Dental Journal, their

within the Oxford region and in the

trainee (me) we should start the Centre

publishers, Oxford Medical Knowledge,

NHS generally, I was looking for a move

for Evidence-Based Dentistry! So, I

and ourselves to develop a plan for the

of post with new challenges and, having

started my training, and during the

journal. It initially came out as a sup-

a Scottish wife, an opportunity came up

2nd week of my training programme I

plement for the BDJ and the original

in Scotland. We had a relationship with

was taken to meet Muir Gray and David

development plan was to have two sup-

the Dental Health Services Research

Sackett in the John Radcliffe hospital

plements a year for three years before

Unit (DHSRU) and Professor Clarkson

canteen and we had a discussion about

moving to a quarterly journal. However,

for a number of years. We had spoken at

evidence-based healthcare. The first

we heard that one of the other publish-

meetings and had become quite friend-

thing I had to do was get trained! So I

ers was planning to launch an Evidence-

ly, so when the opportunity came up

then got into the Oxford CASP (Critical

Based Dentistry Journal, so we changed

to move to Scotland I took it, and then

Appraisal Skills Programme) and spent a

plans and the journal originally came

shortly after moving up, I was invit-

lot of time working with Amanda Burls,

out as a quarterly supplement to the BDJ

ed to provide specialist advice to the

(who is still a leading light in CASP

and subsequently became a stand-alone

Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness



journal, in 2000 I think, and in 2004

Programme which had only been up

teaching critical appraisal skills. We

we applied to for it to be indexed on

and running for a little while. That was

then decided to run a workshop about

Medline and fortunately it was accepted,

one link that started to develop with

Evidence-Based Dentistry, to encour-

so all those things happened over a four

Dundee, and because the Dental Health

age the profession as a whole to get

year period. It was quite a busy time, as

Services Research Unit and the Clinical

involved - this was held at Templeton

there is quite a lot of work involved in

Effectiveness Programme were two of

College in Oxford on December 15th

getting a journal together!

the four evidence-based dentistry groups



1994. It involved Bob Ireland, who

working in the UK (besides the Centre

was professor at Liverpool who had

NI Tell me a little bit about the move now

for Evidence-based Dentistry and, of

been working on the dental informat-

to the University of Dundee Dental

course, the Cochrane Collaboration), we

ics project ORQUEST, Steven Rear who


then formed a virtual network between


© EBD 2013:14.4 © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

INTERVIEW the four groups. So, I’ve had a connec-

DR I am a friend of the Dental Elf, in fact I

tion with Dundee for some time and my

masquerade as the Dental Elf! It’s a fairly

post in Scotland has changed around

recent development - he’s been going

DR Well I think the development of the

a little bit over the past four years. For

since 2011. It was an innovative idea

Triads Programme in Dundee is another

my Consultant in dental public health

originally from the evidence-based con-

good reason for coming here. This is

role I now provide Dental Public Health

sultancy company called Minervation

a multi-disciplinary group looking at

advice and support as part of a network

that I’ve been working with for a num-

implementation of knowledge across a

to the five Health Boards on the East of

ber of years. Two directors of the compa-

number of specialties now and is a very

Scotland – that’s Tayside, Forth Valley,

ny, Andre Tomlin and Doug Badenoch,

constructive development that could

Fife, Lothian and Borders, so the Dental

used to run the IT and the web pres-

be taken forward further. Also, I sup-

School at Dundee along with DHSRU

ence for the Centre for Evidence-Based

pose the involvement of the American

sits within NHS Tayside. Following

Medicine and the Centre for Evidence-

Dental Association and their Evidence-

the recent changes in the structure at

Based Mental Health, and when funding

Based Centre has been another positive:

Dundee Dental School an opportunity

for them dried up a number of years ago,

they have put a lot of resource into it

arose to move the Centre for Evidence-

they formed their own company. They

in recent times and that is a really opti-

Based Dentistry into the School, so we

have been responsible for the Centre for

mistic development. I spend some of

took that opportunity.

Evidence-Based Dentistry’s web presence

my time travelling over to the US as we

for a number of years too, so we have a

help them run an Advanced Evidence-

NI What new developments are you mak-

long-standing relationship. They pro-

Based Dentistry course annually and

ing now that the Centre for Evidence-

posed the idea of the Dental Elf as part

have done for the last six or seven years.

Based Dentistry has moved to the Dental

of the National Elf Service, so we have

A number of appointments to Evidence-

School at the University of Dundee?

been running that now since 2011. It

Based Dentistry lecturing posts have

DR As a result of recent changes to the GDC

has a growing band of support and a

been made too and that’s another wel-

learning outcomes for dental education,

growing number of followers and we

come achievement - although it has

published in the Preparing for Practice

have plans to develop that for the future

taken almost twenty years to get there

document, one of the things I’ll be help-

now as well.

- but change is sometimes a long and

ing with is to get more of an evidence-

think are the areas that are going to be important in Evidence-Based Dentistry?

difficult process, but I feel that we are

based focus, so although Dundee has

NI I know the Dental Elf has about 1,500

starting to make progress along the

teaching and activities around evidence-

followers on Twitter (@DentalElf), and

road and the future for Evidence-Based

based practice interspersed through-

I’m sure that will also continue to grow.

Dentistry is looking positive!

out the five undergraduate years, some

What do you think of the high spots

elements of my work would be to sup-

within Dentistry for Evidence-Based

port further developments in this. Also,

Practice and Healthcare?

Derek, thanks for taking the time to talk a bit about how you got started in world of

looking towards postgraduate develop-

DR I suppose one of the high spots is

dental evidence. Your early lead in establish-

ments, develop a Masters programme

the development and success of the

ing the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry

in Evidence-Based Health Care that has

Cochrane Oral Health Group which

and the journal has promoted evidence

a dental focus, following on from being

has now completed over 150 reviews.

within dentistry as an entity before most

involved with teaching on a Masters

One of the disappointments though,

people were formally thinking this way.

programme in Oxford for a number of

is that, although there is a robust evi-

“The Centre for Evidence-based Dentistry,

years. So it would be nice to have a more

dence-base for prevention, perhaps it

established in 1995, is an independent body

dentally focussed Masters programme

isn’t implemented to the degree that

whose aim is to promote the teaching, learn-

in Evidence-Based Healthcare and that’s

it should be, and the evidence we have

ing, practice and evaluation of evidence-

one of the things we are hoping to

is a little bit thin on the ground in

based dentistry  world-wide.” http://www.

develop in the not too distant future.

other areas of Dentistry although this

is improving. NI That sounds very exciting. I believe that you’re a good friend of the Dental Elf too, aren’t you?

NI I guess that brings me on to the next question I’d like to ask. What do you

Evidence-Based Dentistry (2013) 14, 100-101. doi:10.1038/sj.ebd.6400962

101 © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

An interview with the editor. Interview by Nicola Innes.

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