Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mental Health Research Network Tries to Close Gap Between Research, Clinical Care

At a recent meeting at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), researchers from its Mental Health Research Network (MHRN) discussed how the network is working to link research outcomes more quickly to day-to-day clinical practice than has traditionally been the case in the mental health field. Commenting on the network and its goals, NIMH Director Thomas Insel, M.D., noted,“MHRN is a network of 11 research organizations affiliated with nonprofit health care systems serving 12 million patients.... The idea is simple: understand what works in the real world of practice by using scientific methods, like randomization and statistical comparisons, to create a learning health care system. By linking health information databases and creating an efficient process for assessing outcomes, MHRN is working to transform the world of health care practice into a laboratory for research."

Current MHRN projects include studies of ways to treat perinatal depression and prevent suicide. The MHRN has created information management systems, agreed on standard definitions of mental health events, and developed a standard toolkit of mental health assessments. Now it will try to answer significant questions such as how to deal with complex, comorbid health conditions; reduce early mortality; and ensure fidelity to proven psychosocial treatments. “MHRN is providing an important new model for a learning health care system, one which does not need 17 years or even 17 months to bring research to better patient care,” said Insel.

To read more about how NIMH is influencing the future of psychiatric research, see Psychiatric News.

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