Does academic output correlate with better mortality rates in NHS trusts in England?

Public Health. 2012 Sep;126 Suppl 1:S40-S43. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2012.05.021. Epub 2012 Jul 13.


Objective: To establish whether there is an association between academic output and mortality rates for National Health Service (NHS) trusts.

Methods: Hospital standardized mortality ratios were obtained from Dr Foster hospital report cards. The Medline database of biomedical citations was queried to establish the number of citations credited to each NHS trust and constituent hospitals from 2006 to 2010. Admissions totals for NHS trusts for 2009-2010 were obtained from Hospital Episode Statistics Online. The number of citations per admission was calculated and used as an indicator of academic output as this reflects the workload of the trust.

Results: Spearman's rank analysis was performed to identify any correlation between citations per admission and the inverse of four types of mortality rate: high-risk conditions, r = 0.20 (P = 0.01); low-risk conditions, r = -0.06 (P = 0.46); deaths after surgery, r = 0.193 (P = 0.019); and overall mortality, r = 0.291 (P < 0.01).

Conclusion: The results of this preliminary study demonstrate a significant correlation between academic output and mortality rates. The correlation coefficients are small, but the findings of this study encourage further debate.

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Hospital Mortality / trends*
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Research / trends*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • State Medicine*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric