Ten-year framework for mental health research

A framework for mental health research | Department of Health

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This framework provides a collective view of how mental health research should develop in the UK over the next decade. It sets out a structure to improve co-ordination and strengthen the focus on areas where mental health research is likely to translate into significant health benefit.

Published in response to a recommendation in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, the framework makes a number of recommendations to help guide the future of mental health research. These include:

  • Investigating mental illness at every stage of life
  • Putting people with lived experience at the heart of research
  • Investigating innovative responses to mental illness that go beyond medical settings
  • Improving coordination between research organisations
  • Learning from the vast amounts of data we have related to mental health
  • Developing new, flexible funding for mental health studies

The framework shows the many ways that research could help our understanding of mental health, but it also makes clear the scale of the challenges that remain to make that vital change possible.

Full document: A Framework for mental health research

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Mental health policy research unit

Research unit to bring evidence to forefront of mental health policy

University College London and King’s College London are to lead the establishment of the new NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit.

The research unit will be focusing on prevention, access and quality of mental health care, by conducting research on the impact of existing policies and to guide future plans, as well as by providing expert advice. The unit will offer analyses to help guide mental health policy, drawing on existing data sets to collect evidence, and by synthesising established findings. The unit will also work with a broader network of experts in the field, and identify researchers who can be available at short notice to offer up advice or to take on short-term projects.

Further detail at Centre for Mental Health

 

Sharing good practice in research management

The Royal College of Physicians has published Research for all: sharing good practice in research management. 

This document outlines the conditions needed to support research directors, managers, clinical and non-clinical staff and, ultimately, patients. It includes examples of good practice from NHS organisations around the country which aim to help build the knowledge base for all involved or wanting to be involved in research.

Getting research into policy in health – The GRIP-Health project

For many, the idea that health policy should be informed by evidence is an obvious goal. And indeed, the global health community has widely called for increased use or uptake of research and evidence, in health policymaking | LSE Health and Social Care Blog

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However, a vast majority of these calls have been made without explicit recognition of the decidedly political nature of policymaking, and without consideration of how this may affect the use of evidence to inform decisions.

Indeed, calls for ‘evidence-based’ policymaking have become ubiquitous in recent years, applied in social sectors such as health, education, crime prevention and many others. Many have seen these calls deriving from the successes of the ‘evidence based medicine’ movement – a movement that has helped to ensure that clinical practice is informed by rigorous assessments of evidence of effects of different treatment options.

The GRIP-Health research programme was funded by the European Research Council to bring an explicitly political lens to the study of evidence use for health policymaking in low, middle and high income countries. It draws particularly on policy studies theories to consider how the nature of the policy process, the politicised features of health decisions, and the existing institutional arrangements for policymaking in different countries all can work to shape which evidence is utilised, and how it is utilised to inform or shape health policy decisions.

Podcast: The Evidence Manifesto – it’s time to fix the E in EBM

A response to systematic bias, wastage, error, and fraud in research underpinning patient care | BMJ

Informed decision making requires clinicians and patients to identify and integrate relevant evidence. But with the questionable integrity of much of today’s evidence, the lack of research answering questions that matter to patients, and the lack of evidence to inform shared decision how are they expected to do this?

Too many research studies are poorly designed or executed. Too much of the resulting research evidence is withheld or disseminated piecemeal. As the volume of clinical research activity has grown the quality of evidence has often worsened, which has compromised the ability of all health professionals to provide affordable, effective, high value care for patients.”

Carl Heneghan, director for the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, and Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of The BMJ set out the 9 points of the Evidence manifesto, which tries to set a road map for strengthening the evidence base.

1) Expand the role of patients, health professionals and policy makers in research
2) Increase the systematic use of existing evidence
3) Make research evidence relevant, replicable and accessible to end users.
4) Reduce questionable research practices, bias, and conflicts of interests
5) Ensure drug and device regulation is robust, transparent and independent
6) Produce better usable clinical guidelines.
7) Support innovation, quality improvement, and safety through the better use of real world data.
8) Educate professionals, policy makers and the public in evidence-based healthcare to make informed choices.
9) Encourage the next generation of leaders in evidence-based medicine.

Fresh thinking about the evidence needed for a healthier UK

The Health Foundation is working with Dr Harry Rutter from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to develop a new model of evidence that will inform public health research, policy and practice. 

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As part of this work Dr Rutter and co-authors from the Health Foundation have published a new Viewpoint paper – The need for a complex systems model of evidence for public health – in The Lancet, which outlines the need for new approaches to designing and evaluating population-level interventions to improve health.

Key points

  • We are faced with many big health challenges in our society. Their complex nature is an ongoing problem for public health research and policy.
  • Such challenges often involve multiple factors operating over many decades in systems that adapt as changes occur. For example, the distribution of obesity in a population might be impacted by changes to food, employment, transport or economic systems.
  • The traditional linear model of research is not suited to tackling these challenges. This is because it focuses largely on changes in individuals, not the population as a whole, and because it tends to look at isolated interventions rather than the contexts in which they take place.
  • There is growing recognition that we need a new evidence model that looks at public health problems, and our potential responses, in terms of a complex systems approach.

Full reference: Rutter, H. et al.  The need for a complex systems model of evidence for public health The Lancet, 13 June 2017

Related: Building a new system for the generation and use of public health evidence

 

Knowledge transfer partnership programme announced

Knowledge Transfer Partnership announced at CSO Conference ‘Bringing Science and Innovation to the Heart of the NHS’

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NHS England is set to launch its first Knowledge Transfer Partnership Programme, a 12 month development programme, aimed at clinical leaders in healthcare science.  Successful applicants who secure a place will work with other leading healthcare scientists and build long-term collaborations across clinical, research and industry sectors, whilst identifying new approaches to measuring improved outcomes, ultimately for NHS patients.