UK research spend in 2008 and 2012: comparing stroke, cancer, coronary heart disease and dementia

BMJ Open. 2015 Apr 13;5(4):e006648. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006648.


Objective: To assess UK governmental and charity research funding in 2012 for cancer, coronary heart disease (CHD), dementia and stroke, and to make comparisons with 2008 levels.

Design: Analysis of research expenditure.

Setting: United Kingdom.

Main outcome measures: We identified UK governmental agencies and charities providing health research funding to determine the 2012 levels of funding for cancer, CHD, dementia and stroke. Levels of research funding were compared to burden of disease measures, including prevalence, disability adjusted life years and economic burden.

Results: The combined research funding into cancer, CHD, dementia and stroke by governmental and charity organisations in 2012 was £856 million, of which £544 million (64%) was devoted to cancer, £166 million (19%) to CHD, £90 million (11%) to dementia and £56 million (7%) to stroke. For every £10 of health and social care costs attributable to each disease, cancer received £1.08 in research funding, CHD £0.65, stroke £0.19 and dementia £0.08. A considerable shift in the distribution of government research funding was observed between 2008 and 2012. In 2008, 66% of governmental research funding into the four conditions under study was devoted to cancer, 21% to CHD, 9% to dementia and 4% to stroke. In 2012, the proportions devoted to dementia and stroke had increased to 21% and 12%, respectively, with cancer accounting for 45% of total research spend.

Conclusions: Although there has been much progress by government to increase levels of research funding for dementia and stroke, these areas remain underfunded when compared with the burden of disease.

Keywords: Cancer; Cost-of-illness; Research funding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / economics*
  • Charities / economics
  • Coronary Disease / economics*
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Cost of Illness
  • Dementia / economics*
  • Dementia / epidemiology
  • Financing, Government / economics
  • Health Expenditures
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / economics*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Stroke / economics*
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology