Unlocking the potential of NHS primary care dental datasets

Deborah Moore* (Corresponding Author), Thomas Allen, Dwayne Boyers, Kate McKenzie, Wendy Thompson, Blessing Nyakutsikwa, Iain A. Pretty, Martin Tickle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Maximising the use of routinely-collected health data for research is a key part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy. Rich data are generated by NHS primary care dental services, but the extent of their use in research is unknown.
Aims: To profile the utility of the post-2006 NHS dental datsets for research, map how they have been used to date, and develop recommendations to maximise their utility.
Methods: The content of and access to the four UK NHS dental datasets was collated using publicly available information and a free-text questionnaire completed by the relevant data controllers. A scoping review was carried out to identify and map literature that has utilised NHS dental activity data.
Results: The contents of the UK NHS dental activity datasets are described, alongside how they may be accessed for research. Strengths and weaknesses of these datasets for research are highlighted. The scoping review identified 33 studies which had utilised NHS dental activity data since 2006. We classified 15 as public health practice, 11 as service evaluation and seven as research.
Conclusion: In comparision to other NHS activity datasets, it appears that the UK dental datasets have been underutilised for research. We make 11 recommendations on how their utility for research may be increased.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241–250
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Early online date25 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank Nikki Dodds and Kirsty Grey at the NHS Business Services Authority; Jennifer McCrea, James McGregor, Martin Mayock and Alan Harbinson at the HSC Business Services Organisation; and Ahmed Mahmoud at Public Health Scotland, for their help and support in scoping the contents of and access to the NHS dental activity datasets. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the the listed organisations or the Department of Health and Social Care.


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