APM’s strategy—devised by the Council in Minneapolis in 2015—is unequivocal: research is a strategic priority and we should do more to support research, ensure that researchers are supported, and relevant research findings are disseminated. We should raise APM’s profile as a source for research.
You won’t find anyone disagreeing in the APM Research SIG.
“Research is relevant to all Academy members,” says chair Jane Walker, MBChB, MSc, PhD, MRCPsych. “Some of us do research as part of our day-to-day work, many are involved in quality improvement projects, but all of us rely on research to improve our practice. Research is everybody’s business.”
Some SIG members have been campaigning on the issue within the Academy for almost the past decade. But it was only three years ago that the Research SIG came into existence, started by Dr. Walker, senior clinical researcher in the UK’s University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, together with Michael Sharpe, MD, FAPM, also from the University’s Department of Psychiatry, and vice president to the APM Council, and Jeff Huffman, MD, FAPM, from the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston.
“Our objectives as a Research SIG,” says Dr. Walker, “are to bring C-L psychiatry researchers together to share ideas, to promote research in the organization and beyond, and to ensure that APM members can access high-quality meeting sessions, both on doing research and quality improvement, and on interpreting published research.”
The SIG encompasses members from internationally recognized researchers to early-career psychiatrists. “We started the SIG because we wanted to make research accessible to more Academy members, bring people together who are interested in research and demystify it,” says Dr. Walker. “We now have well over 100 members.”
All of 143 in fact, according to the latest SIG online membership survey. And they were aiming to recruit still more at the 2017 APM conference where they hosted their annual Research for Researchers workshop, led by APM Foundation Research Professor award winner Lydia Chwastiak, MD, MPH, FAPM, and sponsored their first pre-conference course in collaboration with the Research & Evidence-Based Practice (REBP) Committee. Research Skills for C-L Psychiatrists had interactive sessions on epidemiological studies, qualitative methods, clinical trials, translational research, and scientific review.
Over the past three years, the SIG has worked closely with the REBP Committee to ensure that research remains a top priority for the Academy. “We have organized a number of sessions at the annual meeting such as All you ever wanted to know about research but were too afraid to ask and Research for Researchers,” says Dr. Walker. “We have also worked with the REBP Committee and the APM Foundation to set up the annual Research Professor Award which is linked to the Research Mentorship Program—this is an achievement we are particularly proud of.”
SIG members also produce research updates uploaded to the website to ensure that Academy members can keep up to date with recent research.
Members’ own research includes work in areas such as basic science, randomized trials, implementation research, translational research, qualitative research and epidemiology. “We need all of these types of research to make sure that C-L psychiatry continues to grow and improve,” says Dr. Walker.
“There are many examples where APM members and Research SIG members have made important advances in our field. These include clinical trials of collaborative care models which have changed how we practise outpatient C-L psychiatry; qualitative studies that have helped us understand the psychiatrist’s role in assisted suicide; research to find effective treatments for functional illnesses; and epidemiological and laboratory studies which have helped us to understand the links between physical and mental disorders.”
At APM 2017, the Research SIG—as were all SIGs—was asked to submit proposals to help shape APM 2018’s plenary sessions. SIGs will play a key part in this year’s conference as the meeting explores the Academy’s breadth and depth highlighted by our SIG memberships. SIGs have until the end of January to nominate speakers and content matching new and innovative areas of interest within their subspecialties that are “generalizable to the field of C-L psychiatry as a whole.” Organizers expect to select between four and eight proposals from the SIGs.
You can be sure the Research SIG will be among SIGs putting forward proposals. In Palm Springs, at their SIG meeting, they were excited by the prospect of TED-style plenaries—a feature new to the conference and set to be repeated in 2018.
“The Research SIG is a relatively new SIG in the Academy but we are growing quickly and look forward to new members joining us in the coming year,” says Dr. Walker. “Research is our future.” If you’d like to join, click here.