Last year more than 1.3 million people, of all ages, took part in vital health and social care research. It is through high quality, ethically-approved research, that we can develop better treatments, improve diagnosis, learn more about prevention of illness and provide better care for everyone.
Why should I take part?
We can make faster improvements to people’s health and care if more people take part in research. There are a range of reasons that people choose to participate in research:
- To improve health and social care for others, as well as giving hope for future generations
- To learn more about their condition
- To try a new treatment or device
- To be more closely and regularly monitored by health and care professionals
- To help researchers learn important new information
You can read more about people’s experience of taking part in research from our Participant in Research Experience Survey. Last year more than 20,000 participants provided feedback on their experience of taking part in research. 94% of survey respondents said they would consider taking part again and 93% felt valued by researchers for taking part.
Everyone can take part in research
Often studies look for people living with a particular condition. But others may be seeking people who care for someone with a long-term illness, or people who do not have a condition (sometimes called ‘healthy volunteers’). Everyone can make a difference, whatever their circumstances.
You can ask your doctor, nurse or healthcare professional about clinical trials or other health and care studies that you may be suitable for. You can visit the Be Part of Research website or one of our other services, such as Join Dementia Research or the NIHR BioResource. You can also read more about our pioneering vaccine research.
How can I find a study I can take part in?
Be Part of Research is an online service that helps members of the public understand what research is, what taking part might involve, as well as helping people find research studies and volunteer to take part.
The service is mobile friendly and has a search tool that allows you to search by illnesses or conditions that are of interest to you, or by location or postcode.
Once you’ve found a study, you can see all the details including who to contact so you can ask to take part. You can also download, save or print the full study details so you can talk to your doctor, nurse or healthcare professional.
What kind of research can I take part in?
There are many different types of research. For example, some studies test new treatments or require samples. Others may involve interviews or surveys. A study might take place in a hospital, GP practice, or other health and social care locations in the community (e.g. hospice) but some studies can also be done at home, online or by telephone.
Some research may require your one-off involvement, while others may have several follow ups over a period of time. But what might a study involve?
- Cognitive tests
- Drug trials
- Genetic studies
- Lifestyle studies
- Nutrition studies
- Observational studies
- Public health research
- Social care research
- Talking therapies
Researchers will explain what’s involved in their study before you decide if you want to take part. It’s always your choice whether to take part and you can change your mind at any time.
NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry
COVID-19 vaccine research is currently taking place at NHS hospitals and care settings across the United Kingdom, with thousands of people volunteering to help find vaccines to fight the disease.
Vaccines save thousands of lives every year, and they are the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases. We still need further research into the vaccines, to look at how best to protect communities and the population as a whole. To let researchers know you are happy to be contacted about taking part in COVID-19 vaccine studies, you can visit the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry. You will then be contacted if they think you are suitable to take part.
To find answers to frequently asked questions about taking part in COVID-19 vaccine studies or which vaccines you could be contacted by, visit the Be Part of Research website.
Join Dementia Research
Join Dementia Research is a nationwide service, delivered in partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland to enable people to take part in vital dementia research across the UK.
Working like a matchmaking service, simply register your details and you will be notified when an appropriate study becomes available.
People with dementia or memory problems, their carers and anyone over 18 who is interested can sign up. You can sign up online, over the phone or by post.
Once registered, you can decide if you would like to participate in the studies you match to on a case-by-case basis, with no obligation.
The NIHR BioResource helps researchers understand more about the links between genes, the environment, health and disease.
Bioresource is a panel of thousands of volunteers, with and without health problems, who are willing to be approached to participate in research.
If you decide to join you will donate a blood or saliva sample, so your DNA can be extracted. You will be asked to complete a healthcare questionnaire, a consent form and to grant access to your medical and healthcare records.
Your sample will be matched to suitable studies and you will be invited to a maximum of four studies per year. You can choose whether or not to take part in these.