Research explained

Clinical research starts with a question about the cause of disease or how best to provide care or treatment for patients. To gather the evidence to answer these questions, health professionals will carry out a research study.

What does it involve?

All clinical research involves the collection of information known as research data. The data is analysed, reviewed and published in medical journals. It may be the data from a single study or from a number of studies considered together, that will change how care and treatment is provided.

There are different types of clinical research study. Some involve in-depth interviews with patients about their experiences of disease or care. Others may look at new ways to test for the presence of disease. Clinical trials are research studies which look at new treatments to see whether they are safe and work well. They may also look at the use of current treatments when they are used in different ways or in different combinations.

Why is it important?

The NHS knows that research is important. It leads to new treatments for patients, changes the way healthcare is delivered, brings potential benefits for individual patients who take part in research studies and helps to improve the health of the nation overall.

That’s why research is part of the NHS constitution. It’s a commitment to the promotion, conduct and use of research to improve the current and future health and care of the population.

Where can I find out more?

To help navigate through the wealth of information on the internet, we've included a list of websites providing information about clinical research