DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant):
The U.S. has the most diverse population of any nation. However, contemporary orthodontic education does not reflect this diversity. Additionally, as racial groups are not equally distributed across the landscape, it is difficult for orthodontic training programs to provide experiences with a sample of patient as diverse as the country as a whole and therefore, with the diversity they are likely to encounter in their future practices. This project proposes to leverage modern information technology to enhance orthodontic students' exposure to diversity that better represents the contemporary U.S. The goal of the proposed research is to assess the value of a web-based database of de-identified case studies from an ethnically and racially diverse orthodontic patient population. The database will be a searchable, web-based, virtual case file of ethnically and racially diverse orthodontic cases that will include treatment-sequenced X-ray images, intra-oral photographic images, and detailed demographic and treatment data, accompanied by tools to facilitate rapid and convenient access to these materials. This work will improve the value of the orthodontic training experience by increasing the variety of racial and ethnic diversity of patients to which students are exposed, thereby better preparing them for practice in 21st century America. We will test two specific hypotheses regarding the impact of a searchable, electronic database of ethnically and racially diverse case studies in orthodontic training and practice. The hypotheses will be addressed though database development and iterative testing of the usability of its design, medical education evaluation techniques, and dissemination of the results. Besides orthodontic education, research, and clinical use, just some of the other fields that will find this database useful include biological anthropology, public health, epidemiology, and medical bioinformatics.
The public health applications of this project are three-fold: 1) Helping present and future orthodontists to recognize the importance of ethnic variation in the treatment of orthodontic patients. 2) Providing a tool to facilitate research in orthodontics, especially in research concerning ethnic variation, malocclusion, and treatment histories.3) Providing a tool with wide-ranging research applications, including public health, craniofacial development, and forensic anthropology.