Vincent Friedewald, MD, associate editor of the American Journal of Cardiology.
Dotzler, the goal was to get inflammation, periodontology and
the academy on everyone’s radar screen. “This was legitimate
information that would have an impact on audiences outside
the dental community,” Dotzler says. “It made sense to distribute it to the medical community directly.”
As it turns out, the supplement attracted the attention of
Vincent Friedewald, MD, associate editor of the American
Journal of Cardiology, a board-certified cardiologist, a research
professor at the University of Notre Dame and a clinical professor at University of Texas at Houston. AJC is an independent peer-reviewed journal with 30,000 subscribers, including
cardiologists and those interested in cardiovascular medicine.
Friedewald says he was impressed by the science in the
supplement, and curious to see how his journal could work with
AAP to push the message on inflammation’s role in both gum
disease and heart disease. After all, heart disease is typically
rated America’s No. 1 killer.
As with periodontists, “Inflammation’s gotten a good deal
of attention [with cardiologists] but nobody’s sure what to do
with it yet,” Friedewald says. “Cardiovascular experts are asking,
‘Why do some people have heart attacks and some don’t?’”
Friedewald had worked with other medical groups in the past
to organize a “consensus panel” — a meeting of the minds with
two different medical specialties that is designed to form a consensus. “It was extremely important that specific recommendations be made [to help cardiologists and periodontists treat
patients at risk for gum disease and/or heart disease],” Friedewald says. “And the consensus panel is the best way to do it.”
For its part, AAP was thrilled to receive recognition from a
medical organization outside of dentistry. The opportunity and
the chain of events surrounding it was “magical,” DeForest says.
“I mean, this marvelous collaborative opportunity just fell into
our lap through a large distribution of the supplement.”
It also provided an opportunity to translate the science that
had been talked about for so long into concrete clinical information for practicing periodontists. “One of the things we’ve
struggled with is the fact that although we’re now understanding much more about [the role of inflammation], how do you
translate that to treatment?” Cochran says.
With only a month of planning time, AAP and AJC set about organizing the consensus panel. Because this meeting was obviously
not part of the strategic plan or budget, AAP quickly returned
to Colgate to see if its financial support would be possible.
As it turned out, Colgate already had come back to the academy after the initial inflammation workshop with ideas for future
partnerships. The company agreed to use money that had
already been earmarked for another project for the consensus
panel instead. DeForest says that because of its importance,
the academy would have willingly tapped into its reserves had
Colgate not been able to support it.
With funding secure, each group identified and invited five
opinion leaders from their respective fields to attend. Because
AJC had done consensus panels before, Friedewald took the
lead on the format and facilitation of the meeting. AAP took the
lead on meeting logistics, a role that primarily involved staff
because of the short lead time.
The one-day session was held in Boston in January 2009,
with Friedewald as the moderator. According to Dotzler, it was
an informal meeting that didn’t involve a lot of prep work on the
part of participants. “That was the beauty of this consensus panel.
Everyone just showed up with what they knew; just their brains,”
she says. “It was very eye-opening and energizing to watch.”
Compared with past consensus panels he had facilitated,
Friedewald says it was much easier to come to consensus with
these two groups. He recalls that those on the periodontal side
seemed very oriented to the role of inflammation, and there wasn’t
as much back-and-forth as with other panels.
The end result was two sets of specific clinical recommendations for periodontists and cardiologists to use with patients
with established gum or heart disease, as well as specific recommendations for future research.
On the periodontist side, this involved information that should
be shared with patients about a potential increased risk for heart
disease, additional medical evaluations that should be recommended, and how specific risk factors such as cigarette smoking
and high blood pressure should be addressed.
On the cardiologist side, the recommendations involved when
periodontal evaluations should be considered for patients with
heart disease, what those evaluations should involve, and how
periodontists and physicians should work in close collaboration.
That paper will be published simultaneously in AJC and the
Journal of Periodontology later this year. Another round of consumer public relations is slated as well.
How do the groups feel about the results?
“Our horizons have been broadened, and periodontists are
very excited,” DeForest says. “As an association, you serve the
profession, the members … but as individuals, our members
are all about making the patient in their chair better, one patient
at a time.”
Rachel Crippin Clark is a communications consultant and freelance writer based
in the Chicago area. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE AUGUST 2009 SIGNATURE STORY features the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates and its Learning Link program, a tool developed with
support from the SmithBucklin Innovation Center to bring annual meeting courses
to members who are unable to attend. SGNA is a 501(c) 6 organization with more
than 8,500 members, a staff of 10 and a $3.5 million budget. For more information,