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New Zealand's inaugural dental practice-based research network

ARCH—Applied Research through Clinicians' Hands—encourages relationships between New Zealand dental practitioners and academic researchers.

ARCH research is designed to lead directly to improved treatment outcomes for patients, and address the connections between oral and general health.

The definition of a practice-based research network (PBRN) is a 'collaboration between an academic health science centre(s) and community practitioners for conducting primarily clinical research of mutual interest to benefit/enhance patient care and delivery, systems assessment, quality assurance, and other factors affecting health care policy'.

PBRNs are considered to offer a unique opportunity in terms of research and quality improvement with the potential to decrease the 'translational gap' between research and clinical practice, providing a more 'real world' setting in which research can occur.

One of the stated aims of a PBRN is to answer questions posed by clinicians from their own dental practices.

This is a process that uses principal researchers who are based within a University and are able to assist with seeking funding support for New Zealand dental research and who bring methodological rigor to the project design, implementation and the interpretation of resultant data.