Making Research Matter; Comment on “Public Spending on Health Service and Policy Research in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States: A Modest Proposal”

Document Type: Commentary

Authors

1 Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK

2 Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Abstract

We offer a UK-based commentary on the recent “Perspective” published in IJHPM by Thakkar and Sullivan. We are sympathetic to the authors’ call for increased funding for health service and policy research (HSPR). However, we point out that increasing that investment – in any of the three countries they compare: Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom– will ipso facto not necessarily lead to any better use of research by health system decision-makers in these settings. We cite previous authors’ descriptions of the many factors that tend to make the worlds of researchers and decision-makers into “two solitudes.” And we call for changes in the structure and funding of HSPR, particularly the incentives now in place for purely academic publishing, to tackle a widespread reality: most published research in HSPR, as in other applied fields of science, is never read or used by the vast majority of decision-makers, working out in the “real world.”

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