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Report highlights impact of KCMHR

Posted on 02/02/2015
military

A new Health of the Nation report funded by the Medical Schools Council has highlighted the world-leading medical research happening in the UK, including at the King's Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR).

The report is based on impact studies prepared for the Research Excellence Framework (REF), the results of which came out at the end of last year and saw King’s perform better that expected with 88 per cent of submissions rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (4*/3*).  The clinical medicine field itself had a higher percentage of world-leading 4* research than any other field and so the report celebrates this achievement and presents several impact case studies from around the UK, including from the KCMHR.

The length and frequency of combat tours have great importance because if wrongly judged it may have consequences on the mental health of service personnel and affect the preparedness and readiness of the Armed Forces. However, there was no clear evidence on the optimal cumulative period of deployment for military personnel. Researchers from the KCMHR carried out a study showing that there was a higher prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other outcomes of mental ill health when cumulative deployment over a period of three years amounted to more than thirteen months. This finding influenced UK policy in 2011 that considered increasing tour length from six months to nine months without consideration for the time interval between deployments with the result that tour length remained unchanged. The finding also contributed to the decision by the US to reduce tour length in their military from one year to nine months.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Chair of Psychological Medicine and Vice Dean for Academic Psychiatry, IoPPN, said: “Our team is delighted to be used as an example of successful impact by a research group. We think this is partly due to the quality of the work, which owes much to a long standing stable research tram, but also an equally long standing relationship with our Armed Forces, based on mutual respect, trust but also ongoing academic independence.” 

Several other impact case studies are included in the report, which emphasises the quality of clinical health research throughout the UK. Professor Iain Cameron, Chair of the Medical Schools Council, said: “The life sciences sector is the UK’s third largest contributor to economic growth with a turnover of over £50 billion. It is made up of many different kinds of organisation but the expertise that drives the sector comes from universities, the researchers who go on to work in companies large and small, and of course in the crucial work being done in the universities themselves. 

“Medical schools play a key role here. In the UK we have the best academic institutions working with the best research companies and supported by an unrivalled research infrastructure from basic discovery to clinical impact.”

Professor Wessely added:  “Our research is just one of countless examples of UK medical research managing to make real impacts across society batting above its weight. This shows how long term investment in a clinical academic workforce pays dividends when researchers and clinicians work closely together, and may even be the same person, and when both have long term engagement with policy makers.”

You can download the full report from the Health of the Nation page on the Medical Schools Council website.

For further information contact Tom Bragg, Press Officer at IoPPN, King’s College London, on +44(0)2078485377 or email tom.bragg@kcl.ac.uk

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