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Article Abstract

Online ISSN: 1099-176X    Print ISSN: 1091-4358
The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume 5, Issue 2, 2002. Pages: 89-94

Published Online: 11 Nov 2002

Copyright © 2002 ICMPE.


Science Discovery in Clinician-Economist Collaboration: Legacy and Future Challenges

Kenneth B. Wells*

M.D., M.P.H., UCLA-NPI Health Services Research Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA

*Correspondence to: Kenneth B. Wells, M.D., M.P.H., UCLA-NPI Health Services Research Center, 10920 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 300, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA
Tel.: + 1-310-794 3728
Fax: + 1-310-794 3724
E-mail: kwells@ucla.edu

Source of Funding: Support for this work was provided by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) through the Research Center on Managed Care for Psychiatric Disorders Grant (MH546230)

Collaboration of clinicians and economists in mental health services research is challenging because of differences in perspectives, particularly because of relative priorities for individual consumer versus societal perspectives. However, such collaboration can result in a balance of these perspectives that enriches research while also permitting expression of clinical insight concerning unmet needs when balanced by a disciplined societally-oriented evaluation of consequences. These issues are illustrated in a scientific autobiography featuring collaborative relationships between a psychiatrist services researcher and three economists. The paper is a tribute to Carl Taube.


Background: 2002 Carl Taube Lecture at the NIMH Mental Health Economics Meeting

Aims of the Study: To analyze the contribution and process of clinician/economist collaboration

Methods: Personal scientific autobiography, using relationships with three economists as case examples.

Results: In joint efforts by clinicians and economists, clinicians bring an interest in case examples and in responding to unmet need, while economists bring structured analysis methods and respect for a societal perspective. Through mutual respect and discovery, both clinicians and economists can define unmet need in clinical and economic terms and help develop models and programs to improve clinical care, while maintaining a societal evaluation perspective. Key to scientific discovery is the principle that the emotions generated by data, such as hope and despair, need to be acknowledged and utilized rather than avoided or buried, provided that such feelings areused in a balanced manner in research. According to the author, collaboration helps maintain such a balance.

Discussion: Collaboration requires and builds trust, and improves the depth of research by combining different personal and disciplinary perspectives and strengths. Young investigators should be encouraged to explore collaboration and to consider their feelings in response to health and economic data as an important scientific and creative resource.

Received 18 October 2002; accepted 25 October 2002

Copyright 2002 ICMPE