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Towards Horizon 2020: challenges and advances for clinical mental health research – outcome of an expert survey

Authors van der Feltz-Cornelis C, van Os J, Knappe S, Schumann G, Vieta E, Wittchen H, Lewis SM, Elfeddali I, Wahlbeck K, Linszen D, Obradors-Tarragó C, Haro JM

Received 1 January 2014

Accepted for publication 5 February 2014

Published 27 June 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 1057—1068


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Christina M van der Feltz-Cornelis,1–3 Jim van Os,4,6 Susanne Knappe,5 Gunter Schumann,6 Eduard Vieta,7 Hans-Ulrich Wittchen,5 Shôn W Lewis,8 Iman Elfeddali,2,9 Kristian Wahlbeck,10,11 Donald Linszen,4 Carla Obradors-Tarragó,12,13 Josep Maria Haro12–14

Trimbos Instituut, Utrecht, 2Tilburg University, Tranzo Department, Tilburg, 3GGz Breburg, Tilburg, 4Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, South Limburg Mental Health Research and Teaching Network, Euron, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, the Netherlands; 5Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy and Center for Epidemiology and Longitudinal Studies, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany; 6Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, London, UK; 7Institute of Neuroscience, Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, IDIBAPS, CIBERSAM, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; 8School of Community-Based Medicine, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; 9Department of Health Promotion/School of Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands; 10The Nordic School of Public Health, Gothenburg, Sweden; 11National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland; 12Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, Madrid, 13Research and Development Unit, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu, Fundació Sant Joan de Déu, Sant Boi de Llobregat, 14Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Background: The size and increasing burden of disease due to mental disorders in Europe poses substantial challenges to its population and to the health policy of the European Union. This warrants a specific research agenda concerning clinical mental health research as one of the cornerstones of sustainable mental health research and health policy in Europe. The aim of this research was to identify the top priorities needed to address the main challenges in clinical research for mental disorders.
Methods: The research was conducted as an expert survey and expert panel discussion during a scientific workshop.
Results: Eighty-nine experts in clinical research and representing most European countries participated in this survey. Identified top priorities were the need for new intervention studies, understanding the diagnostic and therapeutic implications of mechanisms of disease, and research in the field of somatic-psychiatric comorbidity. The “subjectivity gap” between basic neuroscience research and clinical reality for patients with mental disorders is considered the main challenge in psychiatric research, suggesting that a shift in research paradigms is required.
Conclusion: Innovations in clinical mental health research should bridge the gap between mechanisms underlying novel therapeutic interventions and the patient experience of mental disorder and, if present, somatic comorbidity. Clinical mental health research is relatively underfunded and should receive specific attention in Horizon 2020 funding programs.

Keywords: clinical research, mental health, randomized clinical trials, Horizon 2020, expert survey, challenge, research agenda, Europe

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