Get involved: how you can make a difference

Getting involved in clinical and health research means you are directly contributing towards improving patient care, treatment and wellbeing.

For patients and the public

You can be involved by helping shape future research projects or participating in a research study. More infomation on how to get involved.

Research can also:           

  • provide access to new treatments
  • help determine new treatments
  • improve patient care in the future

This link provides information about taking part in a research study including:

  • What is public involvement in research?
  • What can I contribute to research?
  • What happens on a study?
  • What advice can you give me for when I first get involved?
  • What training and support might I be offered?
  • Why do people decide to take part in research?
  • Where can I find out more?

Anyone can take part in health research. If you are interested in learning more about getting involved in health research please contact us for further information.

For healthcare professionals

Everyone can take part in research in some way regardless of role and experience.

Research can:

  • develop your skills  
  • be an interesting and fulfilling experience
  • create new working partnerships  
  • provide opportunities to learn more about an illness or condition

These links offer further information about health research:

Please contact us for further information. Why not also access the Research intranet pages to find out more about our Research Competency Training Framework which details the training and support available to

What does health research look like?

What a study involves:

Health research can take a number of different forms including drug trials, genetic tests and talking therapies:

What might a study look like


Different types of research:

1. Service Evaluation

There are many different types of research which cover a range of activities. Some require working in a lab, whilst other types of study observe patterns of health and disease and/or develop new treatments or interventions. Some research may look at the effects of standard treatments, while other research may investigate whether new treatments offer any benefit or how the NHS can best organise and provide services.

  • Designed & conducted solely to define or judge current delivery of care
  • Designed to answer ‘what standard does this service achieve’?
  • Measures without reference to a standard
  • Usually involves analysis of existing data but could include simple interview or questionnaire data
  • No allocation to intervention or randomisation
  • Crucially it does not require NHS Research Ethics Committees review

2. Evidence-based practice is the “integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values.”Evidence based practise

  • It means that when health professionals make a treatment decision with their patient, they base it on their clinical expertise, the preferences of the patient, and the best available evidence.

3. Designed & conducted to produce information to inform delivery of best care Clinical Audit

  • Designed to answer ‘does this service reach a predetermined standard’?
  • Measures against a standard
  • Usually involves analysis of existing data but could include simple interview or questionnaire data
  • No allocation to intervention or randomisation 
  • Does not typically require NHS Research Ethics Committees review

4. Designed to derive generalisable new knowledge Clinical & Health Research

  • Designed to test a hypothesis
  • Addresses clearly defined questions, aims and objectives
  • Usually involves collecting data that are additional to those for routine care but may include data collected routinely. May involve treatments, samples or investigations additional to routine care
  • Crucially it does require NHS Research Ethics Committees review

There are 3 different types of clinical or health research:

The clinical trial/study

Compares the effects, both wanted and unwanted, of two or more treatments.

What do clinical studies within clinical and health research achieve?

Clinical trials help determine whether:

  • treatments are safe and effective
  • treatments have any side effects
  • new treatments are better than available standard treatments

How do clinical studies work?

Trials follow a set of rules, known as a protocol, to ensure that they are:

  • as safe as possible
  • that they measure the right things in the right way
  • that the results are meaningful

Why are clinical studies important?

Clinical trials help drive forward advancements and improvements in patient treatments, therapies and interventions.

Healthcare professionals and patients need evidence from clinical trials to know which treatments work best. Without this evidence, there is a risk that people could be given treatments that have no advantage, that waste NHS resources and that might even be harmful.

Observational research

Observational research uses data collected to develop a better understanding of:

  • rare and more common illnesses
  • the natural history of illness
  • the safety and cost-effectiveness of healthcare treatments and therapies used in daily clinical practice

Epidemiology research

Epidemiology is a special branch of research that looks at patterns of illness and disease in groups of people. It tries to identify the causes of illness.

Some epidemiology studies compare people who experience illness (cases) with people who do not (controls). Other studies look at a group of people (a cohort) over time to see what happens. Those who develop a condition and those who do not may then be compared. A third type of epidemiology study looks at patterns in populations and may find associations between environmental factors, such as diet, and disease.

The main challenge faced by epidemiology is that while studies often identify strong links, they do not prove that one thing has caused the other.

Epidemiology has nevertheless made some of the most important medical discoveries such as smoking as a cause of lung cancer. Although this seems obvious in today's world, this wasn't always as clear.