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Patients, carers and the public

Find out more about the ways to get involved in research and how you could help change people's lives.

What is health and care research?

Research helps people who work in health and social care – such as doctors, nurses or care workers, find out about the best ways to help the people they are caring for.

Research can:

  • Find new and better ways of preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases or conditions
  • Test new approaches that could improve the lives of people receiving health or social care
  • Look at the costs and benefits of making changes in the community, for example, introducing exercise programmes or screening for cancer in certain age groups
  • Help us understand how the NHS and social care services can run more efficiently

How does the NIHR fund health and care research?

The NIHR uses money from the Department of Health and Social Care to fund research. We fund research in lots of different ways, including:

  • large research programmes
  • research centres
  • specialist services
  • individual researchers

Together these represent the most integrated health research system in the world.

Find out more about who we are and how we fund research.

There are lots of ways to be part of research

Every day thousands of patients, carers and the public go the extra mile to help make research happen. You could help by taking part in a study or trial, or by working in partnership with researchers to shape what research is done, how it’s carried out, and how the results are shared.

Some studies examine new treatments, while others might involve interviews and surveys. Learn more about being part of a study and find the right study for you.

Use our match-making service – People in Research – to find opportunities to work with research teams and input into how research is carried out.

To make good decisions about what research to fund, we need to know which questions most need answering. This needs your perspective.

Others ways to be part of research

Join a funding committee

Funding committees recommend which research projects we should fund or prioritise. Your experience could help us make these decisions.

Help spread the word about research

Become a Research Champion and help spread the word about health and care research to patients and the public. Especially those groups who are currently less likely to take part in research. 

Review and comment on study documents

Give feedback on the funding applications we receive from researchers. Share your opinion, based on your experience of using health and social care services.

What difference could I make?

Don’t just take our word for it, read these real life stories from patients, carers and their families about their experience of being part of research. You can also see how research has made a difference to people's lives and patient care. 

What if I don’t understand all the words used in research?

We know the world of research can be difficult to understand. There are many acronyms and terms you might not come across everday, even if you work in health or social care. We have produced a list of words that are commonly used in health and care research and explanations of what each word means. It is not a complete list, but it could help you when you’re reading about research.

Take a look at the NIHR glossary.

If you’d like to learn more about what's involved in research or hear from the volunteers who have taken part, explore this free, three-week online course: What is Health Research? Anyone can register and you can complete the course at your own pace.

How can I find out about research on a specific disease or condition?

All the information about the research we do is available to everyone. You can learn about a condition or disease, or help family and friends to understand a new diagnosis.

Browse our easy-to-read summaries

NIHR Evidence website focuses on the results of NIHR projects that we think could change the way people do things. This could be those who work in health and care, patients, carers, people using social care services, or people who work in government. We write up these research findings in plain English and highlight the difference they could make.

Take a look at our summaries

You can search for research results in the NIHR Journals Library, where you will be able to access easy-to-read summaries, in addition to the full research articles.

Browse our journals library.

Find out more

Take a look at our  ‘Partnering with the Public’ page to learn more about how NIHR works with the public. You can also keep up-to-date by following us on social media and signing up to our newsletter to find out more about opportunities to get involved in research. We share people's experiences of taking part in studies and helping shape research.


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