Department of Health Research Programmes
From 1996 to 2011, funding from the Department of Health’s Policy Research Programme supported a series of five-year research programmes at SPRU. These research programmes offered the opportunity to carry out a series of linked pieces of work that explored different aspects of a particular theme or issue. For example:
- We carried out theoretical and empirical work side by side, with each informing the other. For example within the most recent programme a series of scoping studies informed the creation of the longitudinal panel study
- We used the findings of empirical research to develop and test tools for use in routine social care practice, for example the very successful Outcomes Resource Pack which came from the projects of the second programme
- We could conduct longitudinal or repeat cross-sectional studies such as the Choice and Change Panel Study
Individual projects within the programmes were agreed in discussion with Department of Health policy customers. Each programme was subject to a rigorous independent review of its scientific quality and relevance to policy and practice.
Research programme funding also had other important advantages for both SPRU and the Department of Health:
- By offering greater security of funding and the opportunity to focus on a particular research issue, it offered opportunities for career development among junior research staff.
- Programme funding also supported the extensive dissemination of research findings to both academic and practice audiences, over and above that normally allowed in project-based budgets. For example the Outcomes Network continued to flourish many years after its creation.
- By building research expertise and skills, we were better placed to secure additional competitive research funding which complimented and enhanced our programme work, for example the National Evaluation of the Individual Budget Pilot Projects and the European Union study on the socio-economic impact of caring.
- Programme funding also provided an important source of specialist expertise and research capacity for the Department of Health, allowing it to call on SPRU for help in meeting urgent policy demands for research-based knowledge, for example the responsive mode projects.