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The 'Anatomy' of Research Funding of Mental Illness and Addictive Disorders

Harold Alan Pincus, MD; Theodora Fine, MA
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1992;49(7):573-579. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1992.01820070067010.
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• To assess the level and sources of research funding for mental illness and substance abuse fields, we undertook a systematic survey of public and private funding entities. Applying standard definitions, we found that research support in these fields totaled approximately $859 million in fiscal 1988. This level of research support for mental illness and substance abuse is extremely limited and disproportionate to the overall costs to society by these disorders. Mental disorders and substance abuse accounted for $66.8 billion in health care costs in 1988; in the same- year, research on these disorders represented only 4.7% of all health research support nationwide. The three institutes of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) (namely, the National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], the National Institute of Drug Abuse [NIDA], and the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse [NIAAA]) support 64% of all mental illness and substance abuse research; other federal agencies add little more than 7.5%, with the Department of veterans Affairs the largest at 2%. The pharmaceutical and hospital industries account for another 17% of all support; state funding is 8%, which is particularly surprising in light of the states responsibility for the chronically mentally ill. While there has been recent significant growth in the research budgets of the NIMH, the NIDA, and the NIAAA, other sectors have not grown commensurately, leaving the field vulnerable to the funding vicissitudes of these institutes. Greater coalition building and advocacy are necessary to expand the breadth and depth of research resources for the field. Annual assessments of this type, as are conducted by the National Institutes of Health, should be undertaken by the institutes of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration.


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