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Using NHS electronic health records to support mental health research

21 November 2019

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A partnership between Cardiff University and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has resulted in an innovative new tool, which will allow researchers working in mental health to securely access anonymised clinical data.

The initiative known as CRIS (the Clinical Record Interactive Search system) will be launched on 29 November at Cardiff University, alongside other new approaches to increase participation in mental health research.

The CRIS system will allow authorised users to search a de-identified database of clinical data derived from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s electronic clinical notes system, PARIS, to ask important research questions and improve our understanding of mental health disorders.

The CRIS software removes any information that could identify an individual, meaning that their clinical information can be used for research, but their personal details cannot.

CRIS will enable researchers to maximise the use of routinely collected clinical data for mental health research, whilst crucially maintaining patient confidentiality.

Dr Sarah Knott at Cardiff University explained; “The use of electronic health records for research is becoming more and more important in helping us to better understand the causes of mental health disorders and how best to treat them.

“CRIS will enable us to look at up-to-date clinical information in large numbers of people, making it easier to identify patterns and trends, and offering further insights into disease risk factors, predictors of outcome and treatment response, ultimately leading to improved patient care.

“Not only will CRIS be crucial in accelerating research discovery in mental health, but it will also provide an ideal tool for expanding the service evaluation and audit capabilities of the Health Board, feeding directly into service improvement strategies.”

By working in partnership with CRIStal Health to implement CRIS, Cardiff and Vale UHB will be joining the CRIS Network, a group of 13 UK NHS Mental Health Trusts who are working together to accelerate research into mental health.

The project is funded by a grant to Cardiff University from the Medical Research Council as part of their Mental Health Data Pathfinder award to Professors Jeremy Hall and James Walters, in which the main objective was to support the development of a Mental Health Data Platform to enhance the UK’s research capability in mental health.

The implementation of CRIS within CAVUHB will be led by Professor Jon Bisson and will catapult Cardiff into the forefront of clinical and research innovation and develop a health informatics platform that will be of great benefit to its mental health patients and the services that they receive.

Participate will also be launching at the event on 29 November. Participate is the UHB’s approach to informing service users about research they may be interested in, with the aim of increasing awareness of research and facilitating participation.

For more information regarding the launch event and or to attend please contact Tracey Porter on and 02921824990

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