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Background: In this study, we aimed to assess health research funding allocation in South Korea by analysing the relationship between government funding and disease burden in South Korea, specifically focusing on cancers. Methods: The relationship between research funding and the cancer burden, measured in disability-Adjusted life-years (DALYs), was analysed using a linear regression method over a 10-year interval. Funding information on 25 types of cancer was obtained from the National Science and Technology Information Service portal in South Korea. Measures of cancer burden were obtained from Global Burden of Disease studies. The funding predictions were derived from regression analysis and compared with actual funding allocations. In addition, we evaluated how the funding distribution reflected long-Term changes in the burden and the burden specific to South Korea compared with global values. Results: Korean funding in four periods, 2005-2007, 2008-2010, 2011-2013 and 2015-2017, were associated with the cancer burden in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2013, respectively. For DALYs, the correlation coefficients were 0.79 and 0.82 in 2003 and 2013, respectively, which were higher than the values from other countries. However, the changes in DALYs (1990-2006) were not associated with the funding changes (from 2005 to 2007 to 2015-2017). In addition, the value differences between Korean and global DALYs were not associated with Korean government research funding. Conclusions: Although research funding was associated with the cancer burden in South Korea during the last decade, the distribution of research funds did not appropriately reflect the changes in burden nor the differences between the South Korean and global burden levels. The policy-makers involved in health research budgeting should consider not only the absolute burden values for singular years but also the long-Term changes in burden and the country-specific burden when they prioritise public research projects.
Jung, Y. L., Yoo, H. S., & Kim, E. S. (2019). The relationship between government research funding and the cancer burden in South Korea: Implications for prioritising health research. Health Research Policy and Systems, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12961-019-0510-6