Common metrics in mental health research
What we expect from researchers who will be collecting new data on mental health outcomes.
Without objective measures of mental health, we rely on collecting self-reported data to advance mental health science. However, this process of reporting is done inconsistently across studies and with a variety of different measures.
As a member of the International Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders’ Common Measures Board for Mental Health Science, Wellcome is committed to identify and adopt common measures so that it is possible to compare across studies and, in time, data can be combined to answer crucial research questions.
Currently, we have identified and agreed measures for child and adult depression and anxiety, and adult functioning. We have also commissioned a supplier both to help review the implementation of these common metrics and to facilitate selection of measures for psychosis.
What we expect from researchers we fund
Teams planning to conduct research projects with human participants, which will include collecting data on anxiety and/or depression must use (as a minimum) one or more of the following recommended measures, as relevant to their research question:
- Patient Health Questionnaire PHQ-9 (adults - depression)
- General Anxiety Disorder questionnaire GAD-7 (adults - anxiety)
- Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale RCADS-25 (children and adolescents – depression and anxiety)
- World Health Organisation Disability Assessment Schedule WHODAS-12 (adults – impact on functioning)
Information must be captured and reported at the level of the individual item response to allow comparison between studies at the required level of detail.
Researchers may also use as many additional measures as they wish, and we do not require that these measures be the primary outcome measures in any analysis plan.
In exceptional circumstances when these measures are not feasible, we may agree to the use of shorter versions (for example, PHQ-2, GAD-2, RCADS-10), or not at all. However, the reasoning for this must be clearly justified.
The final decision on which measure(s) is/are relevant for a given proposal can be agreed at the point of funding.
For more context on this initiative please see this blog by Wellcome’s Director of Mental Health, Professor Miranda Wolpert.
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