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£50k funding awarded to three projects to celebrate new Researcher Access Service

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Research Data Scotland

19 Apr 2024

Research Data Scotland (RDS) has awarded approximately £50,000 in grant-funding to three projects as part of its Accelerator Awards, promoting research for the public benefit in Scotland.

The three projects will use the new Researcher Access Service to link Public Health Scotland datasets for their research into the following topics: 

  • Antidepressant exposure, response and resistance in severe mental illness  
  • Perinatal suicide and self-harm 
  • Risk for serious mental illness following Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) attendance

The projects chosen reflect Research Data Scotland’s own aims of advancing health and social wellbeing in Scotland by enabling faster, simpler access to data for research in the public benefit.  Each of the research projects will use inpatient mental health data alongside other health datasets to explore important questions surrounding mental health. The potential findings could increase our understanding of the health and care needs of different populations, lead to identification or improvement of treatments and services, and affect future evidence-based policymaking.

“The funding of these projects will help to cement the Researcher Access Service as a new pathway and provide RDS with valuable user feedback to inform and shape the future of the service.  ”

Rosie Seaman, Data Sourcing Manager at RDS

As well as grant funding, these projects will be the first to use the Researcher Access Service. The Researcher Access Service is a streamlined end-to-end digital platform for researchers to apply for and access secure data for research in the public good. RDS has been working in partnership with eDRIS (electronic Data Research and Innovation Service, part of Public Health Scotland) to develop the service, which will offer a digitised, faster, and more efficient approvals pathway for research projects that use nine of Public Health Scotland’s most frequently requested datasets.

These datasets include information on births, deaths, maternity inpatient and day cases, mental health inpatient and day cases, accident and emergency, and prescribing. The Accelerator Award recipients will be providing real time feedback on the Researcher Access Service, supporting RDS to further improve the service and work towards our goal of making access to data simpler and faster.

Read our full Data Explainer about the Researcher Access Service.

Rosie Seaman, Data Sourcing Manager at RDS, said: “I’m delighted that these important projects will be funded through Research Data Scotland’s Accelerator Awards.

“The funding of these projects will help to cement the Researcher Access Service as a new pathway and provide RDS with valuable user feedback to inform and shape the future of the service.

“The standard of applications to the funding call was extremely high and illustrated the level of demand for the Researcher Access Service. It was a real honour running the funding call and having the opportunity to engage with so many research projects that demonstrated so much public benefit. I hope that the three successful Accelerator Award recipients will have a great experience of using the new Researcher Access Service and that they truly become key advocates for data access improvements in Scotland that maximise public benefit.”

Find out more about the successful projects

Antidepressant exposure, response, and resistance in severe mental illness 

The research being undertaken by Dr Matthew Iveson from the University of Edinburgh aims to examine the pattern of antidepressant use within patients living with severe mental illness – including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis and severe depression – identifying changes in treatment that are indicative of response, non-response, and resistance. It will also explore the consequences of these changes.  

Dr Matthew Iveson added, “By utilising Scotland’s leading data infrastructure, linking hospital, prescribing, and death records, we can track antidepressant exposure and response over time. Understanding the patterns and consequences of antidepressant use can improve the lives of those living with severe mental illness by helping to find the right treatment more quickly."

Perinatal suicide and self-harm 

Dr Karen Wetherall of the University of Glasgow will be using the funding in her research on perinatal suicide and self-harm. The study will use data linkage to understand rates and risk factors for suicide deaths and self-harm admissions in women in Scotland during the perinatal period.  

Dr Karen Wetherall said, “In the UK, suicide is the leading cause of death in women during or up to one year after pregnancy. Rates of self-harm admission also appear elevated at 6 – 12 months postpartum.  

“As well as reflecting the mental health risks for women during an often stressful and challenging time, there is evidence that maternal suicidal thoughts and behaviours can impact wellbeing and development of children. Improving understanding in this area is important for preventing suicide in a vulnerable group, and to mitigate potential harm on infants.  

“The study will incorporate a comprehensive collection of risk factors, including demographic, lifestyle, mental health, birth-related experiences and baby-related factors.”

Risk for serious mental illness following Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) attendance 

Professor Ian Kelleher of the University of Edinburgh has brought together a team of researchers to investigate how information on mental health in childhood and adolescence might provide clues about risk of developing severe mental illnesses in adult life. They will investigate whether their recent findings showing a strong connection between child mental health service use and later psychosis in Finland also apply to the UK, using Scotland’s health data. 

Professor Ian Kelleher said, “My team and I are delighted to accept an Accelerator Award as the new Researcher Access Service will enable us to access the data we need quickly. 

“Psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia, take a huge toll on society, from the young adult so disabled by hallucinations and delusions that they cannot leave their home, to family members whose lives go on hold while they try to support their unwell loved ones. Improving early intervention for psychosis is a Healthcare Improvement Scotland priority.  

“With the Accelerator Award we will use Scottish healthcare data to understand how certain treatments in childhood and adolescence might be able to reduce the risk of later severe mental illness.” 

Related content

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Watch: Accelerator Awards Q&A

On Tuesday 30 January, Rosie Seaman, Data Sourcing Manager for Research Data Scotland, hosted an online Q&A to share more information about the Accelerator Awards. The deadline to apply for the awards is Tuesday 20 February.

Research Data Scotland

02 Feb 2024

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