The need for research
Most surgical treatments for facial and oral conditions are relatively successful, but there is usually more than one treatment for the same condition and some are more successful than others. In many cases, the evidence for which treatment works best is not available anywhere in the world. Obviously, it would benefit all patients if we could correct this situation. NFORC is setting out to do just that, through “clinical trials” and “clinical audits” of treatment.
Clinical Trial Vs Clinical Audit
Clinical trials allow us to directly compare two treatments. Patients or healthy volunteers are assigned to one treatment or another and followed closely by the researchers, often over a long period of time, to see how well they respond.
The use of trials for testing new drugs is well known. But we can also use clinical trials
- to compare surgical techniques
- to test new methods of diagnosing disease
- to look at the role of diet and nutrition during and after treatment
- to determine how best to support patients emotionally and psychologically
- to test techniques which may speed up healing and recovery after treatment
A huge amount of information is generated during the day-to-day care and treatment of patients across the UK. The information held in patients’ health records can be used to assess the quality of the care they have received and the results of these assessments can be used to make changes and improvements to the care that patients receive in the future. This process is known as clinical audit.
Like many successful studies before, such as those discovering the link between smoking and cancer, it is essential to follow large numbers of patients after treatment, sometimes for many years. The first step in this process requires every UK surgeon to accurately record data on the treatment given to all their patients who have suffered mouth and face diseases or injuries. Next, this data is transferred to NFORC, which acts like a library storing the patient information in a secure manner. Finally, when surgeons want to study the effectiveness of different treatments, they will sometimes seek approval from research ethics committees to contact patients and ask them questions about the results of their treatment.
NFORC is helping the UK lead the world in finding answers to which treatment works best for all mouth and face conditions and injuries.