What is research and why is it important?

The people who carry out research are mostly the same doctors and healthcare professionals who treat people across the NHS. Their aim is to find better ways of looking after patients and keeping people healthy.

There are many different types of research, covering a range of activities, from working in a scientific laboratory to carefully noting patterns of health and disease to developing new treatments.

Health and social care research looks at many different issues, from illness, disease and disability to the way health and social care services are provided.

People being cared for in the NHS benefit from past research, and continue to benefit from research that’s currently being carried out.

Doctors and healthcare professionals know a great deal about health, disease and treatments, but there are still some things that are unknown. Research can help find answers to things that are unknown, filling gaps in knowledge and changing the way that doctors and healthcare professionals deliver care.

This means that treatment, care and patients’ quality of life can be improved.

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The NIHR Clinical Research Network helps researchers to set up and deliver clinical research studies quickly and effectively, provides doctors and healthcare professionals with research training and works with patients to ensure their needs are at the very centre of all research activity.

We support a wide range of research studies that examine the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of mental health conditions. It is through research that we can understand mental health better and find ways to prevent and treat mental health early on in a child or young person’s life.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can get involved in research at any age, and you don’t have to physically take part in a research study to make a difference. Research teams also work with groups of children and young people to shape the way research studies are designed and delivered. Find out more on the next tab…

"It's important that everyone including children and young people feel able to talk about their experiences of mental health problems. Having their say as part of this research will ensure that their needs are met"

Time to change
run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness

"It is important to invest in research on children and young people's mental health. This will help us to understand the best ways to treat and prevent mental ill health and also promote good mental health. We can then offer children and young people the very best treatment they deserve and make sure they have the best start in life."

Professor Dame Sally C Davies 
Chief Medical Officer