DOI: 10.1111/iej.14011 ISSN: 0143-2885

A critical look at outcome measures: Comparison between four dental research journals by use of a hierarchical model

Linnéa Wrangstål, Maria Pigg, Nawaf Almutairi, Helena Fransson
  • General Dentistry



To assess the status quo of outcome measures used in treatment studies in Endodontics, and potentially identify strategies for improvement, by (i) systematically assessing the outcome measures using a conceptual model and (ii) comparing these with measures used in corresponding studies in the adjacent fields.


The International Endodontic Journal, Caries Research, The Journal of Clinical Periodontology and The Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache were selected to cover four adjacent dental disciplines. In each journal, the 50 most recent consecutive publications fulfilling inclusion criteria were included. A hierarchical model for diagnostic imaging studies was modified to assess studies related to treatment. The model comprised six levels, with technical as the lowest level and societal as the highest. Extracted data included study origin, study type, and identified outcome measures. Fisher's Exact Tests with Bonferroni corrections compared studies. p < .05 was considered statistically significant.


Amongst 756 publications, the 200 most recent studies matching the inclusion criteria were identified. Less than half (36.5%) assessed the clinical, patient, or societal aspects of treatment; 10.0% in International Endodontic Journal, 28.0% in Caries Research, 38.0% in Journal of Clinical Periodontology, and 70.0% in Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache (p < .001).


According to included publications, research on treatment within the endodontic field is mainly focusing on technical and biological outcomes. The benefits of patients and society were less frequently examined than in corresponding journals in adjacent disciplines. When designing studies, including higher‐level outcomes should be considered.

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