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UKCRC Health Research Classification System

Analysis 2018 – news and wider use

The fourth in the UKCRC UK Heath Research Analysis series was published on the 28th of January 2020. Much of the use of the report findings and associated data is internal within organisations, responding to portfolio queries (e.g. FOI requests or ministerial questions) and as part of discussions on policy (including strategic plans, representations in spending reviews and insights into portfolio distributions). However this internal usage makes documenting the adoption of our Analysis and its dataset challenging, particularly if the report is not appropriately cited. Thus anything recorded here is only a subset of the usage of the report and its associated dataset.

Below is what we have found on the further use of the 2018 Analysis, both from those research organisations that participated in the analysis and beyond.



The 2018 analysis as a reporting 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 March 2022, the Fraser of Allender Institute published a report – commissioned by the British Heart Foundation – on the contribution of medical funding by charities to the UK economy. This report relied heavily on the 2018 Analysis dataset, and the report highlights the significant role played by charities on the health research and its benefits to wider society.

In November 2021, the MRC – at the behest of the UK Prevention Research Partnership  (UKPRP) – published a report on UK Primary Prevention Research. This report sought to develop a novel classification system for prevention research using the awards data from our 2018 analysis classified as RA3 Prevention. This not only validated the research activity coding from our report, but provided the first cross-sectional assessment of the whole UK prevention research landscape, concluding “the continuing need to increase investment and UK capability for research into whole-system influences on behaviour and public health, to achieve deeper understanding of the complex influences and interactions needed to develop more powerful population-level interventions.”

In October 2021, RAND Europe published their DHSC-funded Work and health research funding review (2015—2020). This review combined data from multiple public datasets, including our 2014 and 2018 analyses filtered to specific Research Activities, to create an award dataset to conduct the review of health and work-related research.

In September 2021, the UK Government All-Party Parliamentary Group on Eating Disorders published an inquiry into eating disorder research funding in the UK. The report made extensive use of previous work reliant on the 2018 analysis conducted by the IAMHRF in 2020 (see below).

In August 2021, the Scottish Government published its “Women’s Health Plan“; a strategy that seeks to  improve health outcomes and health services for all women and girls in Scotland. This policy document references both our 2014 and 2018 Analyses to highlight the relatively small proportion of funding attributed to reproductive health and childbirth.

In June 2021, the Stroke Association published their “Shaping stroke research to rebuild lives” report, which heralded the creation of a new Stroke Priority Setting Partnership. This partnership brings together over 1,400 people affected by stroke and care professionals to establish priority areas for research across the stroke care pathway.  The report used our 2018 Analysis to compare the research spend per stroke survivor to the research spend to those living with cancer.

Also in June 2021, the Association of Medical Research Charities, produced their annual “Our sector’s footprint” report, which provides an overview of the distribution of medical research funding across the charitable sector. This analysis – which relies heavily on our 2018 analysis – is also used for reporting to their partners and to UK Government, as noted in their spending review submission in September 2021

In March 2021, the London School of Economics published a report on Sustainability and Resilience in the English Health System, and made reference to our 2018 Analysis’ estimates of the total health R&D expenditure in their assessment of the ‘health’ of the health system.

In February 2021, the Japanese Pharmaceutical Group – an association of 11 life sciences companies of Japanese origin – used our 2018 Analysis as one of several resources in its assessment of the UK Life Science Ecosystem to show how the UK is in the ‘premier league’ for basic research.

In November 2020, the International Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders (IAMHRF) published a report on The Inequalities of Mental Health Research Funding. This report built on not just the 2018 analysis but previous reports in the series, the wider use of the HRCS itself and the excellent follow-on analysis conducted by MQ: Transforming Mental health in 2019.

In September 2020, the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) published their Without Charities report, showing the vital role the charity sector plays in the UK life science sector. AMRC used the 2018 analysis to highlight not just the key role of charities in dedicating funding to specific diseases, but also their impact on the research infrastructure across the UK.

Also in September 2020, Fight for Sight published their Time to focus report, a report commissioned to show the personal impact and wider costs of sight loss. Using our 2018 Analysis as a baseline, the report shows how increases to vision-related research funding could have a significant economic as well as health and societal impact.

In August 2020, Versus Arthritis published a review of trends in arthritis research using data from both the 2014 and 2018 analyses, showing the despite an overall increase in health research funding in this period, research specifically for arthritis decreased.

In July 2020, the UK Government published its R&D Roadmap, which sets out the UK’s vision and ambition for science, research and innovation. This key policy document builds on multiple sources, including reviews of the UK’s research landscape and capacity, many of which in turn are reliant on the 2018 analysis, its associated datasets and the past output of the report series.

Also in July 2020, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) published their report titled The science-based economy: The role of health research. This report highlights the need for greater investment in R&D and how health research funding could be part of the strategic uplift. Using data from our 2018 analysis, the report highlighted the current geographic distribution of public/charity health research funding in comparison to ONS/HM Treasury data on the private sector.

In May 2020, Nesta (formerly NESTA, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) produced The missing four billion; a report that seeks to show how the UK’s geographical imbalances in economic performance are exacerbated by regional imbalances in R&D spending. The report draws parallels with an earlier Nesta publication from 2018 – The biomedical bubble – which also shows how potential imbalances in R&D allocation could lead to sub-optimal socio-economic benefits. In both cases, our 2018 Analysis was used to show comparisons of geographic and sectoral distributions of health R&D spending.


2018 Publication Announcements

The publication of the report in January 2020 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.

The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) highlighted the release of the report via their “completing the puzzle” blog, showcasing the data from their 92 member charities that participated in the 2018 Analysis. A significant number of these participating charities also publicised the release of the new analysis with their own news articles, highlighting the specific diseases/conditions relevant to their cause. These include:



References in journal articles

Use of the HRCS – the classification system itself – are recorded separately, although the 2018 Analysis was also used in several published journal articles, including:

  • Hill et al. (2022) Research priorities to improve stroke outcomes. Lancet Neuro  10.1016/S1474-4422(22)00044-8
  • Fox et al. (2021) Patient engagement in preclinical laboratory research: A scoping review. EBioMedicine  10.1016/j.ebiom.2021.103484
  • Isaacs et al. (2020) Examining the language demands of informed consent documents in patient recruitment to cancer trials using tools from corpus and computational linguistics. Health  10.1177/1363459320963431