1.2 Rationale and Evidence for Programs

Evidence-Based Decision-Making

Making decisions based on scientific evidence has become challenging in recent times because of the staggering amount of information available via the Internet and also because of the media’s reporting of the results of studies that did not necessarily undergo a rigorous review process. Program staff must be able to identify information that is based on sound science and to exercise good judgment when making decisions. Systematic reviews can help program staff make this distinction.

The American Dental Association (ADA) states that "based on a hierarchy of levels of evidence, systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials constitute the highest level of current best evidence." ADA also defines a systematic review as "a process of systematically locating, appraising, and synthesizing evidence from scientific studies in order to obtain a reliable overview. The aim is to ensure a review process that is comprehensive and unbiased. Findings from systematic reviews may be used for decision-making about research and the provision of health care."8

OOH’s Dental Sealant Guidelines and Operations Manual will be regularly updated to reflect changes to the state of the science related to dental sealants.