Audit vs Research...What's the difference?

Some of you may have read one of my old posts about Audit (see here) in preparation for DCT interviews or just for curiosity! But how is audit different to research?

What is Audit?

  • Is a means for quality assurance and analysis of the quality of dental care provided by a practice or service
  • Uses standards set by research and guidelines e.g. FGDP, RCS, society guidelines
  • No ethical approval is needed
  • Undergoes cycles of data collection and compares these rounds
  • Is a pillar of Clinical Governance
  • You set a GOLD STANDARD which is your target

What is Research?

  • You need to follow research governance framework
  • Need for ethical approval and compliance with legal and regulatory standards
  • May involve greater risk, burden or intrusion
  • Is a service evaluation conducted to define or judge a current service
  • Intervention where no change is standard is being delivered e.g. randomisation in groups of patients
  • Data is anonymous
  • Not possible to identify participants from a report
  • Use of data will not cause substantial damage and distress

Still not sure what's the difference..?

What is the intention of each?

RESEARCH - derives new knowledge and finds out what should be you be doing

AUDIT -  measure a current standard of care i.e. are you doing a planned activity and assess if it's working

What treatment/service is provided in each?

RESEARCH - may use intervention with little or no support

AUDIT -  does not use intervention without a firm basis of support in clinical/health community

How is allocation done in each?

RESEARCH - allocation by protocol

AUDIT -  no allocation by protocol, joint decision by clinical and patient

Is randomisation used?


AUDIT -  no

A great resource to find out more is the Department of Health Research Framework and Governance, see here

I hope this helps to clear things up if you were a bit confused! If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below!

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