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UKCRC Health Research Classification System

2014 analysis – news and wider use

The third in the UKCRC Heath Research Analysis series was published on the 20th of August 2015. The increased scope of this analysis, with greater funder participation and a more complete public dataset, has lead to a number of news articles, blogs and re-use of the data in other reports and publications.

Here we document the dissemination of the 2014 Analysis, both from those research organisations that participated in the analysis and beyond.


UK Health Research Analyses and the benefits of shared data

In 2016, as part of the WHO’s Global Observatory on Health R&D reporting series, we produced a paper discussing the difficulties of creating a nationwide analysis of health research funding and the benefits of sharing funding data. Published in the journal Health Research Policy and Systems, this paper provides a basis from which the UK approach to landscaping analyses could be readily adapted to suit other groups or nations, and global availability of research funding data would support better national and international coordination of health research.


The 2014 analysis as an evidence base

The free publication of the report and associated dataset provides a considerable resource for those working in the area of health research strategy and policy. As a result the findings from the report and/or re-use of the dataset can provide a significant resource for subsequent analyses and further reporting.

In 2018, MQ: Transforming Mental Health published a long awaited report on UK Mental Health Research Funding 2014 – 2017. This report used the 2014 analysis to identify awards classified as Mental Health, and performed extensive sub-analysis to show the distribution of funding across specific mental health disorders and conditions. This approach was then replicated in further studies using the 2018 analysis and applying the HRCS coding to awards from international funders.


In 2017 a grant mapping report published by Marie Curie, an AMRC member charity with a focus on care and support for people living with terminal illness,  made extensive use of the 2014 analysis data. This report, “Does current palliative and end of life care research match the priorities of patients, carers and clinicians?”  focused on Research Activity Code 7.2 for palliative care research and fulfilled one of the main aims behind making data from the UK Health Research Analyses publicly available; to identify discrepancies in research need versus expenditure and encourage new collaborations to promote funding to these research ‘gaps’.

In addition, a recent call from Marie Curie for research grant applications also referenced the 2014 analysis. The call announcement noted that “only 0.16% of health-related research funded in 2014 by UK charitable and governmental research funders was spent on end of life care research.”


In September 2016, the Academy of Medical Sciences published their “Improving the health of the public by 2040” report, which provides key recommendations to “fully address the many complex health challenges the UK population will face in the next 25 years”. The 2014 analysis provided a key evidence base for the current research landscape (see page 17). A supplementary report, “UK research landscape for population health research and public health practice”, commissioned to support the Academy’s 2040 project made extensive use of the 2014 analysis dataset to further assess Population Health research, focusing on Prevention and Aetiology.


In another example, data from the 2014 analysis within the area of mental health funding featured in the Mental Health Foundation‘s report, Prevention Review: Landscape Paper, published online in November 2015. The Mental Health Foundation is a UK charity that aims to support development of evidence-based mental health policy and help people look after their own mental health.

Similarly, another AMRC member – Action on Hearing Loss – also referenced the 2014 analysis in their report “Hearing Matters”. In this report, Action on Hearing Loss note that less than 1 per cent of spend is on hearing loss, which equates to “£1.11 being spent on hearing research for every person affected.”


The information collected on public and charitable spending has also been of considerable use to the private sector. The estimation of total UK health-related R&D expenditure from the 2014 analysis has been used by the UKCRC partner The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry as part of their UK Biopharma R&D Sourcebook for 2015; Adapting the Innovation Landscape.


Online Articles and Blogs

In a blog by the Association of Medical Research Charities, Health Research Analysis 2014: the who, what, where of health research spending, Dr Sara Ellis discusses the results from the perspective of medical charities.
A total of 52 AMRC members participated in the 2014 analysis, covering 94.9 per cent of AMRC’s funding. The contribution of these 52 charitable funders provided £793m of spending in the analysis (39.1% of combined UK total).

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), one of several public funders new to the UKCRC analysis series in 2014, also produced a blog – Publicly funded health research and the role of NC3Rs – to discuss their HRCS portfolio in the context of the UK research landscape.

The Medical Research Council (MRC)‘s article, A decade of changes to the UK health research landscape, highlights the key findings of the report including that the research councils collectively support more than two thirds of all Underpinning research in the UK. This article was also featured on the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)‘s news page.

The report also featured in an article for Research Professional, an online database of research funding opportunities and a source of international research policy and practice news. The article – UK health R&D spend slipped in five years to 2014 – focuses on the change in growth rate over the ten years of this report series, with a particular focus on the changes in public/charitable funding compared to the pharmaceutical industry.


2015 Publication Announcements

The publication of the report on the 20th of August 2015 was disseminated widely within the participating research organisations, the UKCRC and to a wide range of stakeholders with an interest in health research policy.

Individual organisations also encouraged wider dissemination, with a range of publication announcements, email blasts, tweets and other engagement activities. A selection of these are noted below.

News of the report featured in the member briefing newsletter from AMRC (August 2015), a newsroom announcement from the NIHR, and an news post on the Northern Ireland HSC R&D Division website.

The report’s publication was also highlighted in a news post by the Chief Scientist Office in Scotland, the Northern Ireland Practice & Education Council for Nursing and Midwifery (NIPEC)’s newsletter series for senior nurses/midwives, and the NHS Noclor Research Support website’s news page.


2017 Review and Update

Following the feedback from the 2014 analysis, we conducted a formal review of the HRCS and accompanying resources in 2016-17. This resulted in some substantial updates to the several guidance topics, creation of new topics for emerging research fields and a new, much improved HRCS website. To aid those already familiar with the HRCS, we produced a summary slideset to help highlight the changes in format and revisions to guidance. For even more details, we also produced a full summary document which details how each topic has been updated. For further information on our review process, please contact us. All feedback is much appreciated.