Each year the NIHR collects and publishes annual performance statistics that demonstrate how the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports health and social care research in England.
Please note these figures relate to the period between April 2021 and March 2022.
Another remarkable year for participation in NIHR CRN supported studies
The 2021/22 CRN annual statistics show research participation levels remain at remarkably high levels, following an unprecedented period in research history.
The NIHR CRN helped 1,289,937 participants take part in over 4,600 portfolio studies in England in 2021/22.
Dr William van’t Hoff, Chief Executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network said:
"Against the backdrop of the pandemic and as we support the recovery of the UK research portfolio, our roles and achievements for NIHR remain vital. I want to offer a huge thank you to everyone who’s been involved in the incredible successes over the last year. By taking part, shaping or delivering this research you have helped develop the evidence and treatments that will benefit us all.
"This year we look forward to further building on these successes - playing our role contributing to the system-wide Research Reset programme, increasing our research in primary care and community settings, and further ensuring our research meets the needs of all our communities across the country, so we can improve health, care and quality of life for everyone."
Strengthening partnerships across the NHS
The NIHR CRN’s ability to support studies across the whole country is key to successful research delivery. For the fifth year in succession, 100% of NHS trusts across England delivered NIHR CRN portfolio studies by helping their patients take part, firmly showing this is now normal practice within NHS Trusts.
51% (3,397 of 6,640) of GP practices recruited participants to NIHR CRN supported studies, providing more opportunities to take part in research at the first point of care. This is the highest number ever, and paves the way to grow primary care research even further in the future.
Leading the world with COVID-19 research
The NIHR continued to be at the forefront of research into COVID-19 in 2021/22. Throughout the year, the CRN helped 772,359 participants across the UK take part in a total of 308 COVID-19 studies. 700,602 of these participants were recruited in England. These included pivotal vaccine trials and innovative studies investigating COVID-19 treatments in community and hospital settings.
With NIHR CRN support, the PANORAMIC COVID-19 antiviral treatment trial became the UK’s fastest ever recruiting primary care interventional trial (with 25,000 participants enrolled within 5 months). PANORAMIC is also currently the largest trial of community-based treatment for COVID-19 anywhere in the world.
Over the course of 2021/22, the NIHR CRN supported 16 COVID-19 vaccine studies and 13,275 participants were recruited to these studies. These studies have already impacted the UK vaccine programme and will likely impact global vaccine policy in the future.
Collaborating with the life sciences industry
An increasing number of commercial studies supported by the CRN has opened up many new opportunities for participants. 28,193 participants took part in commercial studies sponsored by the life sciences industry. The number of commercial studies supported by the CRN in 2021/22 also increased by 26% to 1,688, with the number of new studies increasing 11% to 759.
Participants’ experience of taking part in research
In 2021/22, a total of 25,711 research participants completed the NIHR CRN’s Participant Research Experience Survey (against a target of 12,000 responses). Their responses are helping us learn what we can improve for the future.