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Estimating the impact of musculoskeletal research

Published on 15 January 2018

A new study published in the journal Health Research Policy and Systems has estimated the returns generated by public and charitable investment for musculoskeletal research in the UK. It found that research into musculoskeletal conditions has an outstanding rate of return, and one which is equivalent to research into other major conditions.

Following on from studies focusing on cardiovascular disease, mental health and cancer research, this research demonstrates that for every pound invested in medical research into musculoskeletal disease, there is an annual return equivalent in value to 25p every year, forever.

The findings demonstrate that investing in medical research has an outstanding return on investment, representing significant improvements in health as well as real benefits to the UK economy.

The work was supported by Arthritis Research UK, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Department of Health, the Medical Research Council and Wellcome. "Every £1 invested in such research produced direct health benefits equivalent in value to 7p, with a further 15-18p in benefits to the wider economy, every year."Professor Jonathan Grant, study author In this latest research, the research team led by Professors Jonathan Grant from The Policy Institute, King’s College London and Martin Buxton from The Health Economics Research Group, Brunel University, London, identified key research-based interventions that have led to reduced morbidity and mortality from musculoskeletal disease over a 20-year period. These ranged from novel drug therapies for inflammatory arthritis, such as the development of anti TNF therapy, to advice for people with back pain to remain active.

This latest study demonstrates that research to tackle musculoskeletal conditions not only results in improved health outcomes but also generates economic gain, indicating that research investment by the UK government and medical research charities continues to be money well spent.

Professor Jonathan Grant, Professor of Public Policy at the Policy Institute, King’s College London and one of the study authors said:

“This study shows that publicly and charitably funded research into musculoskeletal disease in the UK generated significant health gains over a 20-year period, improving lives and delivering substantial economic benefits in the process. Every £1 invested in such research produced direct health benefits equivalent in value to 7p, with a further 15-18p in benefits to the wider economy, every year.

“The findings were in line with the previous studies in this series, which when taken together, show that biomedical research generates a return of 25p for every £1 invested. These studies demonstrate the importance of maintaining government investment in biomedical research, and help show that taxpayers’ and charitable organisations’ money is being well spent.”


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