Working in health and social care gives everyone the opportunity to be part of research, whether that is understanding what research is taking place within your organisation or by actively supporting and promoting that research.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have published a vision for the future of clinical research ensuring clinical research is at the heart of patient care, Saving and Improving Lives: - The future of UK clinical research delivery
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) also includes active involvement in research within their assessment criteria for healthcare facilities because evidence shows that people being cared for in research active organisations have better outcomes, not just for those people involved in a research study but for everyone in the organisation.
Research is key to improving care, experience and outcomes for people and you can help by being part of research in lots of different ways - as a participant, a researcher supporting nationally led studies or developing your own research studies and by using research evidence to enhance your everyday practice.
Where to start
You can get involved in research at lots of different levels, from feeling confident in using research evidence in your day-to-day practice right up to developing and leading your own research studies nationally and even internationally. Research is for everyone involving lots of different people and is multidisciplinary, including academics, nurses, allied health professionals, scientists and participants. Involvement in research can provide many opportunities and most importantly adds to the evidence base for improving health and care outcomes .
It's never too early to start thinking about how you can be involved in research and you don’t have to know anything about research to get started. The following section provides links to information that you might find helpful in understanding more about health and social care research in the UK and how you can start to get involved.
To find out more about research in your local area talk to your Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN) or the research department in your local organisation. You can also find out more about what research is taking place by visiting the NIHR website ‘Be Part of Research’ Be Part of Research (nihr.ac.uk). This website enables you to search for research by topic area and location
What do I need to know
Participating in research offers the opportunity to develop many skills, communication and interpersonal skills, problem solving, interpreting data and critical appraisal.
You can get involved in research in lots of different ways, for example:
including research in your usual every day work - this might be as a local research champion or Principal Investigator in your organisation.
specialising in a role that helps to deliver national research studies such as those within the Clinical Research Network (CRN), as a clinical research nurse, research practitioner or research manager.
developing your experience and knowledge as a researcher to design and lead your own research studies.
Follow the links to the videos below to find out more about roles in research:
How to lead a study locally - the role of the Principle Investigator, Sub-PI or Associate Principle Investigator
Next steps in developing clinical research
Let's talk trials
Study management and documentation
Here are some other resources to help you get started :
Using Research Evidence in your practice
Published evidence reporting the results of research that has already taken place
is a key part of improving everyday care and treatments and advancing healthcare practice.
However, there is so much evidence how can you be sure that what you are reading is of high quality
and will really help to enhance care for your patients? Learning more about how to find useful
research evidence (searching the literature) and how to read an article and critically appraise
the results can help you feel confident to embed research evidence in your practice.
Finding Research Evidence - Clinical Librarians
To receive support and training on finding evidence try asking your local trust healthcare library - most libraries have Clinical Librarians who can help you find evidence to answer questions from practice and they also provide training to help you find what you need yourself.
Once you have found relevant research papers you will then need to feel confident appraising the research findings, this series of six training videos on critical appraisal from Cochrane are a good start in helping you to ask critical questions about the research results reported - learn.nihr.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=721
Good Clinical Practice (GCP)
GCP is a set of international standards that must be followed when designing, conducting, recording and reporting clinical trials and those involved in delivering research in healthcare are usually required to complete GCP training and updates on a regular basis. The principles of GCP aim to ensure research participants are protected by ensuring they make informed choices about taking part in health and social care research. GCP also maintains high quality standards in clinical research by making sure that the information from the trial is properly managed and results reported so that they are of benefit. More information on GCP can be found on the Health Research Authority (HRA) website: www.hra.nhs.uk/planning-and-improving-research/policies-standards-legislation/good-clinical-practice/
Valid informed consent is a legal requirement for research involving human participants to protect the dignity, rights,safety and wellbeing of the participants. Before taking part in a health and social care trial it's very important to make sure that people have all the information they need to decide if they want to participate. For example, they need to know all about what might happen to them during the trial, what the potential benefits or risks might be and how long they will be involved. That way they can make a fully informed choice about taking part. To find out more about informed consent in clinical research visit 'Getting informed consent for user research' on the Government website
The following video provides a light hearted introduction to some of the issues and challenges to address in communicating with people about clinical trials and making sure they are providing informed consent.
The way that researchers try to answer their research question may vary greatly from one trial to another. It's helpful to know how research trials are designed as it's an important part of understanding and explaining unusual terminology such as randomisation, control group, arms, placebo, etc.
The following videos provide information about some of the basic research designs you might see in healthcare settings.
The research landscape is ever evolving to bring new, faster and efficient ways to develop new treatments. The following series of podcasts will give you an understanding on innovations in trial design and delivery.
Patients, carers and the public are integral to how health and social care research is designed and delivered. This involvement ensures that the proposed research is relevant to the needs of the population that it is designed to serve.
The UK Standards for Public Involvement are a good starting point to understand how to involve the patients and public in research.
"Patient, public involvement in research is about bridging the gap between ideas of the researchers and patient’s reality, ensuring that research is directly relevant to and makes a real difference to patients"
Follow the links below to find out more about how patients and public inform research
NIHR Clinical Academic Research Training and Development
The NIHR provides funding to help design and deliver health and social care research but they also have a range of research training and personal development awards to help researchers from early in their career right through to post doctoral level. These research pathways are shown below
More information on the range of research training and development awards is available here and in the video’s below :