‘Is academia meeting the needs of non-academic users of the results of research?’

The Lancet, published online 8 October 2012

Medical and public health researchers often assume that their work will be relevant to patients, health professionals, policy makers, the public, and other non-academic users of research. However, on the basis of the little available evidence, serious mismatches exist between what researchers do and what many non-academic users of research feel they need. Research agendas are determined by the priorities of research sponsors, academia, and academic researchers, and cannot be assumed to match the needs of non-academic users of research.

The authors reviewed themes that emerged from the JLA PSPs for asthma, incontinence, vitiligo, eczema, stroke, prostate cancer, schizophrenia, aspects of balance, and type 1 diabetes. Emergent themes include emphasis on the need to assess long-term effects (wanted and unwanted) of treatments; safety and adverse effects of treatments; effects of complementary and non-prescribed treatments; and the effectiveness and safety of selfcare.

The authors suggest that researchers need to consider their responsibilities to take account of the needs of public and other users of research and ask themselves what they are doing to ensure that they are meeting these needs. Furthermore, non-academic users of research need to engage with the research community to encourage research that addresses their needs.

Download the abstract here.