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related liver disease, a condition highly associated with socioeconomic disadvantage,28 was
both under-funded and under-researched in relation to the high level of burden associated
with this disease. In contrast, inflammatory bowel disease, which some studies have found to
be more prevalent in more socioeconomically affluent groups,20 appears to have received
consistently high levels of funding and research attention in relation to burden. A
contributing factor to these differences may be that socioeconomically disadvantaged groups
have less say and influence over research priority setting, resulting in their health needs
being overlooked.29 30 31 To develop equitable research agendas and investment strategies,
due consideration must be given to the voices of the most disadvantaged groups in society
and the diseases which have a disproportionate impact on their lives.
Finally, some of the limitations of this study could be addressed by improved monitoring of
research and funding in the field of digestive health in Europe. This study investigated the
distribution of funding for digestive disease related projects within one of the largest research
funding programmes in the world, however more work is needed to assess how other
programmes and national funding allocations respond to need. Coordinated strategies are
required to collect, organise and communicate information on existing research activities. As
an example, the CardioScape project has established a database of European cardiovascular
research projects and funding agencies.32 Projects are organised using a taxonomy of research
topics, permitting analysis of topic-based funding. A similar project in the field of digestive
health research could potentially be initiated by building upon and further developing the
taxonomy of digestive disease related research topics that have been utilised in this study. A
project such as this would enable rapid analysis of under-funded areas to inform funding
decisions, and support research efforts by helping to avoid duplication whilst facilitating
collaborations. Over time, a well coordinated database could provide greater levels of
transparency in terms of funding investments, and be utilised to evaluate the impact of
strategies designed to increase research activity and funding into neglected areas.
This exploratory overview of research priorities, activity and funding in the field of digestive
health in the European region found several areas which may benefit from additional
research and investment. It is hoped that the evidence presented provides useful insight into
the research landscape and can be used to develop a strong rationale for increased research
support from researchers, funding bodies and policymakers. Additional exercises, such as
consulting patient groups, identifying barriers to conducting research in neglected areas and
improving surveillance of research activity and funding will further assist UEG in designing
research agendas and advocacy strategies that are responsive to health needs and salient
evidence gaps in the field of digestive health.
White Book 2: Part 2


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