Research in English NHS Mental Health Trusts

Download our briefing Everywhere and Everyone Included? research in NHS Mental Health Trusts in England

What is this work?

We wanted to understand how research active NHS mental health trusts in England are, and what the barriers to trusts hosting or developing research are. We wanted to test whether the Government was meeting its own commitments to create a “culture of innovation and research that is embedded at every level” in the NHS within mental health services.

Why is this work important?

We identified three reasons for why it is important to spread research activity across mental health services.

  • People affected by mental health problems want to be involved in research and benefit from participating.
  • Understanding research and the application of evidence should be a core part of every mental health professional’s training. Assisting on a study is an important learning opportunity for all professionals, and vital for developing the next generation of researchers.
  • There are problems recruiting participants to take part in studies. If we are to achieve the increase in mental health research that is needed we need to expand the pool of potential participants.

What did we find?

Although all mental health trusts are research active to some extent, there remains a wide variation between them. Some trusts are ten times as active, relative to their size as others. Approximately 2% of people who use specialist mental health services are involved in NHS funded research, compared to the almost 20% of cancer patients who take part in research.

We also found that the incentives for individual trusts to invest in research to be low, pointing to a need for greater leadership from the centre.

What’s Next?

We published a briefing outlining our findings in March 2017, you can read more about it on our blog. We are now considering how to take forward the recommendations.