Investigating time lags and attribution in the translation of cancer research

A case study approach

by Susan Guthrie, Alexandra Pollitt, Stephen Hanney, Jonathan Grant

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In 2012, RAND Europe and the Health Economics Research Group (Brunel University) were commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, the National Institute for Health Research and the Academy of Medical Science to conduct a study of the returns to the public/charitable investment in cancer-related research. This study built on previous work published in the 2008 'What's it worth?' report that estimated the economic returns to medical research in terms of spillover benefits and health gain. The 2008 study was extensively quoted and cited as a clear justification for the economic importance of medical research and appears to have played a role in achieving the protection of the medical science budget in the recent public expenditure cuts.

This cancer study used a similar approach to that used in the previous study, but with some methodological developments. One of the methodological developments was the inclusion of case studies to examine the validity and variability of the estimates on elapsed time between funding and health gains, and the amount of health gains that can be attributed to UK research. This report provides the full text of the five case studies conducted as well as some discussion of observations emerging across the case study set.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Case study 1: The use of guaiac-based faecal occult blood test in bowel cancer screening

  • Chapter Three

    Case Study 2: Service configuration

  • Chapter Four

    Case study 3: Smoking reduction

  • Chapter Five

    Case study 4: The use of tamoxifen in the treatment of breast cancer

  • Chapter Six

    Case study 5: Total mesorectal excision (TME) in rectal cancer

  • Chapter Seven

    Discussion and observations

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, the National Institute for Health Research and the Academy of Medical Science and was conducted by RAND Europe.

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