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Using NHS electronic health records to support mental health research

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.

Introducing CRIS…

The Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) system will allow authorised users to securely search a de-identified database of clinical data derived from the Health Board’s electronic clinical record system, PARIS, to ask important research questions to 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.

a busy street of people

Understanding the causes

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 implementing CRIS, Cardiff and Vale UHB will be joining the CRIS Network, a group of 13 other highly innovative UK NHS Mental Health Trusts who are working together to accelerate research into mental health.

Raising awareness of research

The implementation of CRIS in Cardiff and Vale UHB has also led to the development of other exciting initiatives to increase participation in mental health research, such as Participate, which will also be launching on 29th 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.

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, which will be led by Professor Jon Bisson, 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.

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

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Dr Sarah Knott

Sarah is a Research Associate at Cardiff University and is the CRIS project implementation lead.

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National Centre for Mental Health, Cardiff University, Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ

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