Why was this work needed?
One in four people are affected by a mental illness each year, but there are still many unanswered questions about how these conditions can be treated and prevented. By looking at data in real life situations on a large scale, researchers can pick up patterns and trends, like what treatments work for some and don't work for others.
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust is the mental health trust that provides the widest range of mental health services in the UK. As well as treating patients, the Trust supports ongoing research into mental health by providing access to anonymised versions of its electronic clinical records system.
The system is called CRIS (Clinical Record Interactive Search) and researchers can apply to access the wealth of data contained within it. CRIS can also be linked to other data, like hospital and GP records, allowing researchers to look for new connections with mental illness, for example, the impact of mental illness on cancer survival rates.
What were the benefits?
CRIS supports a wide range of research projects, so the potential benefits are broad, from looking at how schizophrenia medication affects someone’s physical health to how someone’s home living arrangements might impact how long they spend on a hospital ward.
Ultimately, the kind of work which CRIS supports will allow health professionals to develop a much better understanding of how mental illness can best be treated and prevented.
What type of data was involved?
CRIS contains electronic patient records from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. It is also linked with Hospital Episode Statistics, Office for National Statistics Mortality Data, Lambeth DataNet (a database of GP records in Lambeth), the National Pupil Database and data from King’s Health Partners (an Academic Health Science Centre which includes South London and Maudsley).
What was the legal basis for accessing the data?
All data is de-personalised. Linkage takes place within the Clinical Data Linkage Search, which acts as a safe haven. All patients can opt out of their data being used.
Who funded and collaborated on this work?
CRIS has been developed within the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre and Dementia Unit (BRC/U).
Where can I go for more information?
- Page updated: 31 August 2017
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