This is the summary document of the Mental Health Retrosight Policy Report. Mental Health Retrosight is about understanding how research translates into clinical application, with a focus on schizophrenia. The burden of mental ill-health, including schizophrenia, is a significant and growing problem worldwide. How can funders and policymakers encourage the most efficient and effective use of research resources to quickly bring new treatments and cures to millions of sufferers?
Summary one-pagers are freely downloadable here. For further information, there are links to the relevant full technical reports.
Public funding for medical research in the UK is allocated almost entirely according to peer review. However, both the effectiveness and efficiency of this process have been questioned, and research to address the criticisms has produced contradictory results. Without sufficient evidence for the best way to improve the system of peer review, its use in awarding grants should be balanced with a range of other fund allocation methods.
Ethical scrutiny of health research has been integrated into the research process only recently, and is characterised by a multitude of bodies and countries issuing different sets of regulations and recommendations - on what should be universal values. Add to this the personal and cultural factors that guide interpretation of core ethical principles, and varying operating frameworks of ethics committees, and the stage is set for inconsistent outcomes from ethics reviews. The system is viewed by researchers as burdensome and bureaucratic, and in response, efforts have been made in several countries to streamline and standardise processes.
Bibliometrics, an evaluation methodology to assess the impact of research, is an increasingly important tool in public policy evaluation, with clear advantages over other methods. Bibliometric methods have some shortcomings but are adaptable to specific evaluation requirements, and remain most useful in combination with other evaluation methods such as systematic peer review and case studies.