Intended for healthcare professionals


Without proper research funding, how can medical education be evidence based?

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 26 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3445
  1. Julian Archer, clinical senior lecturer in medical education1,
  2. Chris McManus, professor of psychology and medical education2,
  3. Katherine Woolf, senior lecturer in medical education2,
  4. Lynn Monrouxe, director of medical education research3,
  5. Jan Illing, codirector4,
  6. Alison Bullock, director5,
  7. Trudie Roberts, director6
  1. 1Collaboration for the Advancement of Medical Education Research and Assessment, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, Plymouth, UK
  2. 2University College London, UK
  3. 3Institute of Medical Education, Cardiff University, UK
  4. 4Centre for Medical Education Research, University of Durham, UK
  5. 5Cardiff Unit for Research in Medical and Dental Education, Cardiff University, UK
  6. 6Leeds Institute of Medical Education, University of Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to: J Archer julian.archer{at}

We can no longer leave research into medical education to chance

“It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes”—Douglas Adams

We regularly hear about the costs to healthcare when doctors get it “wrong.” Each year, an estimated 98 000 people die in the United States and nearly 12 000 in England, as a result of preventable medical errors.1 2 In the US these deaths are estimated to cost $29bn (£18bn; €26bn).1 The NHS spent over £1bn (€1.4bn; $1.6bn) on litigation claims in 2012-13 alone.3 Since 2010, four UK-wide reviews of healthcare failings have all called for a change in the culture of the healthcare workforce,4 5 6 7 acknowledging that “culture will trump rules, standards and control strategies every single time.”8 Although defining culture is complex,9 central has to be good staff support, training, and management, which in turn “nurture caring cultures by ensuring that staff feel valued, respected, engaged and supported.”10

Getting it “right” saves lives and money and is deceptively simple. We invest in high quality research into the education, training, and relicensing of our clinical workforce and translate the results into practice. But despite the obvious need to grow the evidence base, research funding remains small.

Cancer Research UK spent over £350m on research last year.11 Figures for how …

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