What is the SEP-MD Study?
An ongoing ESRC-funded project led by Dr Jayati Das-Munshi and a team of researchers at King’s College London and in the NIHR South London & Maudsley (SLaM) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), called the Social and Economic Predictors of the Severe Mental Disorders: The SEP-MD Data Linkage Study, has linked de-identified hospital records from South London and Maudsley Hospital (SLaM)-- one of Europe’s largest secondary mental health providers - with data from the 2011 Census. The project team aims to use this linked dataset to explore relationships between overlapping forms of social disadvantage, identified through the Census records, to map out the long-term effects of living with severe mental health conditions like schizophrenia. This project is unique because mental health records like these have never been linked to Census in England.
The project began in 2018, after receiving ethical approval. The Office of National Statistics did the work of linking SLaM patient records with Census data and then gave the King’s/ SLaM research team access to the anonymised linked dataset. Members of the team, who have gone through data protection training and clearance, are currently using special secure computers to explore and describe the data.
Eventually, the research team plans to use statistical analyses to see how social disadvantage might predict the onset of severe mental health problems, as well as adverse health outcomes in people with severe mental illness. First, though, they have to address a challenge: a much lower proportion of hospital records in people with severe mental health problems matched with Census records.