Patients, carers and the public

Improving patient treatments and care through research is only possible with the involvement of patients, carers and the public. In 2016/17 more than 665,000 patients took part in more than 5,000 clinical research studies on the NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio but taking part in a study is just one way to get involved. Resources on this page can be used to encourage and inspire patients and the public to get involved in research.

Patient Research Ambassador - John White's story

A Patient Research Ambassador is a patient, carer or interested member of the public who is passionate about health research. They raise awareness of local research, act as a first port of call for patents' questions on research, and support national research campaigns.

You can read more stories from research ambassadors on our Patient Research Ambassador Initiative page.

You can also find tips on how you can promote health research from this poster: 10 things you can do to promote health research

Bernadette’s story - Clinical research is everyone's future 

Watch Bernadette’s inspirational story of participating in a clinical research trial and treatment she received at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust.

Bernadette describes the contribution that clinical research makes to improving patient care and how it helps NHS professionals understand why patients benefit from taking part in clinical research.

Read more stories about how research has transformed people's lives on our 'Research changed my life' page.

Improving healthcare through clinical research

NIHR created a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which guides you through case studies and examines how research contributes to the treatment of major diseases, such as cancer and dementia, and examines the process of conducting research and the ethical questions raised.

This course is open to anyone from members of the public to healthcare professionals who would like to learning more about research.

Register for our MOOC here.

Ask about research

People might be interested in clinical research for a variety of reasons, or ask about what treatment options are available to them. It is useful to know where to go for information on research. Here are a few suggestions:

  • The UK Clinical Trials Gateway lets you search for clinical trials that are recruiting by condition and geographic area, and provides you with contact details for the trial teams. 
  • Join Dementia Research connects volunteers who would like to participate in dementia studies with researchers. 
  • The I Am Research website provides a range of tools and resources related to getting involved in research.
  • A patient could make their doctor aware, to give their doctor an opportunity to look into research for them. 

The short animation below answers some of the common questions people have about clinical research:

Useful links


People in Research

UK Clinical Trials Gateway

Join Dementia Research

I Am Research

"I Am Research" gives patients, the public and health and social care research professionals a chance to shout about how fantastic research is. We aim to raise awareness of the benefits of research and the positive impact it has on people's lives.

The campaign produced a set of materials that can be used to share the benefits of research. You can download all of these materials in a zip folder here. Alternatively you can find the individual download links below:

The video below explains the research process, and the important benefits of research, from a young person's perspective.

Success stories

Our 'success stories' are short case studies highlighting successful initiatives that have had a transformative effect in embedding research into normal clinical practice. You can view all of these case studies on our success stories page.

You can also find inspirational stories from patients, their families and carers across England about their experiences with research on our 'research changed my life' page.