Understanding the Contribution of UK Public Health Research to Clinical Guidelines

A Bibliometric Analysis

Published in: F1000Research, Volume 8, No. 1093 (July 2019). doi: 10.12688/f1000research.18757.1

Posted on RAND.org on September 24, 2019

by Gavin Cochrane, Advait Deshpande, Benoît Macaluso, Vincent Larivière

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Background

There is an increasing need to understand the wider impacts of research on society and the economy. For health research, a key focus is understanding the impact of research on practice and ultimately on patient outcomes. This can be challenging to measure, but one useful proxy for changes in practice is impact on guidelines.

Methods

The aim of this study is to map the contribution of UK research and UK research funders to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) public health guidelines, understanding areas of strengths and weakness and the level of collaboration and coordination across countries and between funders. The work consisted of two main elements: analysis of the references cited on NICE guidelines and interviews with experts in public health.

Results

Across the papers cited on 62 NICE public health guidelines, we find that 28% of the papers matched include at least one UK affiliation, which is relatively high when compared to other health fields. In total, 165 unique funders were identified with more than three acknowledgements, based in 20 countries. 68% of papers which acknowledge funding cite at least one UK funder, and NIHR is the most highly cited funder in the sample.

Conclusions

The UK makes an important contribution to public health research cited on NICE PH guidelines, although the research does not appear to be bibliometrically distinct from other research sectors, other than having a relatively low level of international collaboration. However, the extent to which NICE public health guidelines reflect practice at the local authority level is less clear. More research is needed to understand the sources of evidence to support public health decision making at the local level and how NICE guidance can be made more applicable, timely and accessible in this new context.

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