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Information for Researchers

Introduction to CRIS 

Watch our video for an introduction to CRIS and its development:

Watch interviews with some of our researchers to find out how CRIS is being used in research, on our Videos page. Visit the CRIS Blog or Publications page to find more examples of important findings made by researchers using CRIS. 


Support for Researchers

The CRIS team have developed several resources to support researchers at all stages of their CRIS project. The team includes colleagues who work in the following areas: 

  • CRIS Administration: manage all elements of CRIS administration. This includes the project application process and CRIS communications.
  • CRIS Extraction: support users to develop data extract specifications for approved research projects. They also extract project specific datasets. 
  • Clinical Data Linkage Service (CDLS): manage secure data linkages between CRIS and other third-party patient level data sets. This includes governance and approvals, data linkage, hosting and access.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): develop and deploy NLP applications to extract structured data out of clinical records text. 
  • CRIS Technical Support: develop, maintain and administer CRIS technical infrastructure and data processing pipelines. 

For an overview of the CRIS project process, see our swimlane diagram

Anyone can apply to use CRIS provided they meet the governance requirements set out in the CRIS Security Model. 

The CRIS Oversight Committee review all applications to use CRIS. The Committee is patient-led. It oversees and monitors the use of CRIS. Applications to use CRIS are judged according to:

  • Underlying value and potential benefits of the project e.g., to inform patient care.
  • Appropriate supervision/ governance.
  • Inadvertent risk of de-anonymisation, for example, the likelihood of a particularly small cohort. In these cases, measures may be put in place to safeguard confidentiality.

The CRIS Security Model provides more information, including the CRIS Oversight Committee’s Terms of Reference.

To apply to use CRIS, please complete the online application form

Applications cannot be saved once you have started. We recommend using the Word template for drafting purposes.

For support in completing the application, please see the guidance notes or contact a member of the CRIS team.

To access CRIS data, researchers are required to have a contract with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. They also need to provide evidence of completing Information Governance (IG) training in the past year. For information on what contract is required and other practical information, please read the Welcome to CRIS Guide.

The CRIS Team can support users through the various stages of their CRIS project. Please review the CRIS Service Manual for an overview of the services we provide.

The CRIS Extraction Team assist users with the extraction of project-specific data from CRIS, read below for the Team statistics for 2023.


Our CRIS Natural Language Processing (NLP) Applications Library contains the details and performance of more than 80 NLP applications. These relate to the automatic extraction of mental health data from the free text in CRIS that we have developed and routinely deploy through our NLP service.

Visit the NLP Applications Library page.

CRIS can be used as part of the Consent for Contact (C4C) framework to identify patients who may be eligible for research trials. We have produced Guidance for Studies using C4C for researchers using CRIS to recruit participants via C4C. If you have any queries regarding whether you are covered by your research ethics and Research & Development (R&D) approval for recruiting via C4C, please contact the R&D office on

For advice and support in using CRIS for a research study, or to find out more about CRIS and the study support we offer, attend our next CRIS Drop In morning on Wednesday 31 July 2024, 09.00-12.00, in the NIHR Maudsley BRC Hot Desk room (M3.04) at the Centre for Translational Informatics, 3rd Floor, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, Denmark Hill Campus. Contact for more information.

We hold regular academic sessions where CRIS users can find out about each other’s work and network with colleagues.  

These are hybrid sessions which are held once a month on the second Wednesday at 10.00. Contact for more information.

There are several Patient and Public Involvement Groups that support CRIS projects. They can provide advice and feedback relating to CRIS projects. If you are interested in presenting at one of the groups, please see the details and email contacts below: 


Data Linkage Service User and Carer Advisory Group (DL-SUCAG)

The group is open to researchers who are conducting data linkage projects using CRIS. It is a regular meeting of people with lived experience of mental illness, who have an interest in mental health research involving data linkage. The group meet on a quarterly basis and researchers are invited to present their project and receive feedback and advice from the group.

The group can review projects at a variety of stages - from identifying research priorities and preparing grant applications, right through to disseminating findings. They can help to promote the service user perspective in your mental health data linkage study, as well as improving the quality and relevance of your project.

For more information or if you are interested in presenting at one of our meetings please contact:

Amelia Jewell, DL-SUCAG Chair -


Clinical Informatics Service (CIS) Advisory Group

The Clinical Informatics Service (CIS) Advisory Group was launched in January 2024 to provide advice and feedback to the CIS when planning new data visualisations for clinicians and to researchers working on Natural Language Processing (NLP) studies. The CIS Advisory Group meets every two months and aims to identify the priorities of Trust service users and carers for how clinical health record data should be used for research and informing patient care. The Advisory Group is open to researchers from the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) using existing NLP applications or developing new applications.

NLP projects can be presented to the Group at any stage, from development and implementation through to evaluation and dissemination. The CIS Advisory Group can provide a service user and carer perspective on your study, improving the quality and relevance of your project and linking it to translational work using NLP methods to improve patient care in South London and Maudsley NHS trust. The group is an example of Patient and Public Involvement, which can improve the rigour, quality and relevance of your research.

If you are a researcher conducting a NLP-based project and would like to consult the Group, please contact Jyoti Sanyal ( For matters related to Patient and Public Involvement for the CIS, please contact Zoe Chui (


CRIS for Dementia Service User & Carer Advisory Group (C4D-SUCAG)

This group ensures that dementia research conducted using CRIS is led by the concerns identified by people with dementia and their families and that the service user viewpoint is considered throughout the research project.

The group:

  • Acts as a point of contact for researchers looking for service user/carer advice on dementia
  • Identifies research priorities for dementia research in CRIS.
  • Builds meaningful and joint relationships between researchers and service users/carers
  • Promotes the service user/carer perspective in dementia research using CRIS. Find and share good practice in service user and carer involvement.

For more information about the CRIS for Dementia Service User & Carer Advisory Group or if you are interested in presenting at one of our meetings please email:

Dr Christoph Mueller, C4D-SUCAG Chair & Senior Clinical Lecturer -

Sharon Sondh, Deputy C4D-SUCAG Chair & Research Assistant -


A Data Controller is the individual or organisation who controls and is responsible for how data is kept and used. South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) is the Data Controller for CRIS. The Trust has a Privacy Notice which describes how data is kept and used in the organisation and patients' legal rights with regards to their data. 

Access to CRIS data is aligned with the 5 Safes:

  1. Safe Data – CRIS data is de-identified, this means that all patient identifiable information (PII) is removed from CRIS data repositories entirely, including references in text and structured fields, or sufficiently truncated/ modified to protect confidentiality, for example:
    • Date of birth is truncated to month and year of birth only
    • Ethnic category is collapsed into the NHS standard 16+1 categories 
    • Postcode is modified to Lower Super Output Area
  2. Safe Research – The patient-led CRIS Oversight Committee is responsible for overseeing and monitoring the use of CRIS, including managing the CRIS application process. All projects proposing to use CRIS are required to submit a written application to the committee. The CRIS Oversight Committee is accountable to the Trust Caldicott Committee. 
  3. Safe People – Individual users named in approved CRIS projects require a contract (honorary or substantive) with the Trust. This ensures users are contractually obliged to adhere to relevant Trust policies regarding confidentiality and data protection. All CRIS users are required to show up-to-date Information Governance training at the point of project approval. 
  4. Safe SettingsUse of CRIS is governed by the CRIS Security Model which is managed by a patient-led Oversight Committee who approve all applications to use the data.  By default, all CRIS patient level data must remain within the Trust firewall at all times. This ensures these data are subject to the same rigorous security standards (technical and policy) applied to other patient level data by the Trust.
  5. Safe Outputs – Only aggregated data may be taken out of the Trust firewall for publication purposes. The CRIS Oversight Committee will judge CRIS applications according to their risk of inadvertent deanonymisation, for example, the likelihood of particularly small cohort / cell sizes (< 10 cases) or the appearance of high profile publicly known / published information. In these cases additional measures will be put in place to safeguard confidentiality.



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