What is research?
Research helps us increase our knowledge about human health and wellbeing. This is so we can:
- provide life changing treatments
- diagnose diseases earlier or more accurately
- prevent people from developing conditions
- improve health and care for generations to come
- ensure everyone has a better quality of life.
Overall, the aim is to find out whether what is being tested is better than what is currently available. This can include therapies, medicines and services.
Although health professionals already know a great deal, there are still so many questions that need answers.
Important discoveries so far
Research helps to answer provide those answers. Here are some important research discoveries that shape our healthcare today:
- Penicillin was discovered in 1928 and developed into a drug in the early 1940s. Today it’s used to treat a broad range of bacterial infections accounting for around 45% of the antibiotics prescribed in the NHS in England.
- Research in the 1980s and 1990s showed that low doses of blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin and warfarin significantly reduced the number of heart attacks and strokes in people at risk.
What does it involve?
Sometimes healthcare research studies may be referred to as ‘clinical trials’.
There are lots of different types of research. Research usually involves examining and observing people with different conditions and sometimes comparing them with people who don't have the condition. It can also involve research on samples of blood or other tissues, or tests such as scans or X-rays.
Researchers can also analyse information in patient records, or the data from health and lifestyle surveys.
Read more about what research can involve on our 'why take part' page.