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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Oral Health 1/2015

Performance of a quality assurance program for assessing dental health in methamphetamine users

BMC Oral Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Bruce A. Dye, Lauren Harrell, Debra A. Murphy, Thomas Belin, Vivek Shetty
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

BD participated in the design of the study, conducted examiner training, assisted in the interpretation of the data and drafting of the manuscript. LH participated in the design of the study, performed the statistical analyses, and helped draft the manuscript. DM contributed to the study conception and design, and critically reviewed for important intellectual content. TB contributed to the study conception and design, and assisted in the interpretation of the data and drafting of the manuscript. VS conceived the study, and participated in its design and coordination, and helped draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Systematic characterization of the dental consequences of methamphetamine (MA) abuse presupposes a rigorous quality assurance (QA) program to ensure the credibility of the data collected and the scientific integrity and validity of the clinical study. In this report we describe and evaluate the performance of a quality assurance program implemented in a large cross-sectional study of the dental consequences of MA use.


A large community sample of MA users was recruited over a 30 month period during 2011–13 and received comprehensive oral examinations and psychosocial assessments by site examiners based at two large community health centers in Los Angeles. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) protocols for oral health assessments were utilized to characterize dental disease. Using NHANES oral health quality assurance guidelines, examiner reliability statistics such as Cohen’s Kappa coefficients and inter-class correlation coefficients were calculated to assess the magnitude of agreement between the site examiners and a reference examiner to ensure conformance and comparability with NHANES practices.


Approximately 9 % (n = 49) of the enrolled 574 MA users received a repeat dental caries and periodontal examination conducted by the reference examiner. There was high concordance between the reference examiner and the site examiners for identification of untreated dental disease (Kappa statistic values: 0.57–0.75, percent agreement 83–88 %). For identification of untreated caries on at least 5 surfaces of anterior teeth, the Kappas ranged from 0.77 to 0.87, and percent agreement from 94 to 97 %. The intra-class coefficients (ICCs) ranged from 0.87 to 89 for attachment loss across all periodontal sites assessed and the ICCs ranged from 0.79 to 0.81 for pocket depth. For overall gingival recession, the ICCs ranged from 0.88 to 0.91. When Kappa was calculated based on the CDC/AAP case definitions for severe periodontitis, inter-examiner reliability for site examiners was low (Kappa 0.27–0.67).


Overall, the quality assurance program confirmed the procedural adherence of the quality of the data collected on the distribution of dental caries and periodontal disease in MA-users. Examiner concordance was higher for dental caries but lower for specific periodontal assessments.
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