A new study shows in a novel way that medical research actually saves lives, starting in the local communities where it is produced.
The researchers analyzed whether the publication of scientific studies on specific diseases reduced mortality rates for each disease in the regions where the research took place. These studies could describe new treatments or other ways to treat diseases that could benefit patients and add years to their lives.
The results showed that a 1% increase in publications by local researchers on a specific disease reduced the death rate for that disease in the region by 0.35%. This decrease occurred in the first five years after the study was published.
“The idea is that doctors who are in the same geographic area as the creators of a new medical idea are more likely to adopt that idea early,” said Rebecca McKibbin, study co-author, lecturer at the University of Sydney, Australia. “Our results provide a way to measure the direct impact biomedical research has on life expectancy. … Doctors and other health care providers first find out about the idea via local networks and thus put the ideas into practice earlier. This gives people with this disease a health benefit in places where research is carried out. “
McKibbin, who began the work during his visit to Ohio State University, conducted the study with Bruce Weinberg, professor of economics at Ohio State. Your study appears as a working paper at the National Bureau of Economic Research and has not yet been peer-reviewed.
In addition to finding a link between medical publications and lower mortality rates, the researchers found that the link between health and research had an upstream effect in terms of increasing funding for medical research linked to fewer deaths in the area. In this case, a 1% increase in local funding for research into a particular disease reduced local mortality from that disease by 0.22%.
Funding scientific studies has significant links to lower mortality that appear to be dragging through publications, Weinberg said. “This is not a small return,” he noted. “The results provide additional evidence that funding medical research is a good investment.”
To establish a causal link between research and health, researchers examined changes in biomedical research funding to measure the impact of new knowledge on mortality rates. Here they looked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants for researchers studying specific diseases. Again, fellowships for researchers in a particular community helped reduce mortality in that area in subsequent years for diseases they studied.
Ultimately, researchers looked at a single sharp “shock” to funding medical research that came with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), signed in 2009. ARRA added $ 8 billion to the NIH budget in 2009 and 2010. This funding represents an unexpected godsend for the area to study a specific disease, ”said Weinberg. “We found that this was also related to a lower mortality rate for the target diseases.”
Edited by Gary Cramer