Context Increased competitive pressures on academic health
centers may result in reduced discretionary funds from patient care
revenues to support the performance of unsponsored research, including
institutionally funded and faculty-supported activities.
Objective To measure the amount and distribution of unsponsored
research activities and their outcomes.
Design and Setting Survey conducted in academic year 1996-1997 of
2336 research faculty in 117 medical schools. Responses were weighted
to provide national estimates.
Main Outcome Measures Institutionally funded research as a
proportion of total direct costs of research was compared across stages
of market competition. Logistic regression was used to assess the
relationship of performing unsponsored research to faculty
characteristics and market stage.
Results Overall, 43% of faculty received institutional funding
for research. Young faculty were more likely than others to receive
institutional support (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.4; 95% confidence
interval [CI], 1.1-1.9; P = .004). The amount of
institutional support as a proportion of total funding was more than
twice as high in less competitive markets (6.1%) compared with the
most competitive markets (2.5%; P = .05). Most faculty (55%)
performed faculty-supported research. Clinical researchers (OR, 1.6;
95% CI, 1.1-2.3), principal investigators (OR, 4.3; 95% CI, 2.8-7.0),
faculty with high levels of research effort (OR, 6.2; 95% CI, 4.0-9.5)
or institutional funding (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.4-2.6), and faculty in
the most competitive markets (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.4-2.5) were more
likely than others to conduct faculty-supported research. When
undertaken by clinical researchers, these activities were supported by
clinical income, extra hours worked, and discretionary funds, and often
led to publications (76%) or grant awards (51%).
Conclusions Many academic health center faculty receive
institutional support to conduct their research or fund the research
themselves. Market pressures may be affecting the level of
institutional funding available to faculty.