Skip to main content

Participants - What is Clinical Research?

What Is Clinical Research?


Research is the way new knowledge is found. Clinical research (also called clinical trials or studies) is a type of research that is designed to test new treatments or ways of delivering care. Clinical research can involve patients and/or healthy people. If you are interested in getting involved in a clinical trial or study you can look at our studies pages to see what is available. You can also contact your GP, nurse, hospital specialist or other relevant health professional to find out more. The NHS Constitution has set out the aspiration that all NHS patients should have the opportunity to be involved in research into their particular condition. If this happens not to be available locally you may need to find out what is happening elsewhere in the UK, for example from the Clinical Trials Gateway website.

What is Primary Care Research?

When research takes place in a community setting, such as a GP surgery, dental practice or pharmacy it can be called primary care research. This research is concerned with the prevention of disease, new and innovative medical technologies such as a new drug, health promotion, screening and early diagnosis, as well as the management of long-term conditions, such as arthritis and heart disease.

What is the National Institute of Health Research?

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has been set up by the Department of Health to ‘create a health research system in which the NHS supports outstanding individuals, working in world class facilities, conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients and the public’. The Clinical Research Network (CRN) consists of 15 Local Clinical Research Networks that cover the length and breadth of England. These support clinical research and help to facilitate the conduct of trials and other well-designed studies in the NHS.

More information on the NIHR, the networks and the coordinating centre is available on the following websites: