£2.3 million MRC investment to support nine new research projects across the UK
The Medical Research Council (MRC) has awarded £2.3 million for new research into the academic methods underpinning advice given by NICE on how the NHS should make the most of its resources, it was announced today.
NICE experts use new and established academic tools and methodologies to assess how the treatment affects patients' lives, and how much value for money it offers, before weighing up whether a treatment should be recommended for use in the NHS.
The focus of the new MRC-funded research is to further develop these standard tools and methodologies, which are used around the world by healthcare decision-makers.
Professor Peter Littlejohns, NICE's Clinical and Public Health Director, welcomed the MRC's funding, saying: “Over the last 10 years NICE has built an outstanding international reputation for the rigour of its decision-making methods and processes. We are continually pushing the boundaries of the existing methodology and we are committed to ensuring the methods remain up-to-date and fit for purpose. The new tools and methodologies developed by these MRC-funded research projects should do just that.”
Under the new funding programme, nine groups at universities and NHS institutions across the UK will set up independent research projects, which will cover issues including:
- Can measurements of quality-of-life in specific diseases - such as levels of tiredness or cognitive ability - be taken into account to supplement quality adjusted life year (QALY) measurements, a tool used by NICE to assess how different drugs or medical procedures extend the quality and length of patients' lives?
- How can the methods used to carry out economic modelling in clinical guidelines - which recommend the best way to diagnose and treat specific diseases and conditions - be improved?
- How can the effectiveness of interventions to prevent ill-health by changing people's behaviour, such as stop smoking schemes or promoting hand-washing in hospitals, be better assessed and defined?
Professor Tim Peters, Chair of the MRC/NIHR Methodology Research Programme Panel said: “Ensuring we have the best tools for evaluating treatments and the effects they have on patients' lives is a crucial part of bringing medical research to impact on patient care as quickly as possible and ultimately changing lives for the better. By funding this research, the MRC will enhance the methodologies available to the research community and NICE, and in turn enable the UK to maintain its high standards of clinical excellence.”
Planning for this new funding programme began in 2008 when the MRC commissioned an independent study to identify NICE's methodological research priorities. These priorities were then reflected in the MRC's call for funding proposals.
The successful funding bids were selected by the MRC-National Institute for Health Research Methodology Research Programme (MRP) Panel. For more information about the new MRC-funded projects, please contact the MRC press office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about the QALY, the measurement that is used by NICE to assess how different drugs or medical procedures extend the quality and length of patients' lives.
19 July 2010
This page was last updated: 27 July 2010