Diagnostic terminology: report of an online survey.
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INTRODUCTION: Diagnostic terminology used in endodontics has been based on historical use, textbook and glossary terms, best-available science, and personal conviction. There is minimal evidence that establishes an absolute set of terms that can be used to make a definitive diagnosis. As a component of the Consensus Conference on Diagnostic Terminology held in October 2008, an online survey was conducted to invitees to assess their opinions on diagnosis. METHODS: Thirty-six questions were developed by the oversight committee and chairs of the subcommittees. Most questions used a modified Likert scale to generate a response. At least a 51% agreement or disagreement to the statement was considered a consensus, and a response greater than 25% but less than 51% generated a minority report. RESULTS: Thirty-one of the 36 questions were designed to determine consensus. All 31 generated a consensus response, with 14 of those generating a minority report. Minority reports suggest that there was still greater than 25% of the respondents who did not follow consensus. Possible explanations were provided for those statements that generated a minority report. CONCLUSIONS: Data from the online survey provided trends and preferences toward particular diagnostic terms and beliefs. The limitations of such a survey are multiple including the limited size and nature of the respondent group, responses based on opinion, and question design. The online survey results suggest an awareness for the specialty to develop better diagnostic tools and terminology that are biologically and metric based.