I want to learn about research

What is health and care research?

Research can help improve health for all of us. Whether we, or someone we care for, is ill, has a long term condition, or are getting help from social care services. Or whether you are an interested member of the public. The results of research help people who work in health and social care – such as doctors, nurses or care workers – find out about the best available treatments to help the people they are caring for. But it’s not just about treatments, research can also help in other ways. For example, research could:

  • 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 spend money and run more efficiently

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

You can also find out how the NIHR’s research is influencing care, and making a positive difference to people in our ‘Making a difference’ stories.

How does the NIHR pay for health and care research?

The NIHR pays for health and care research using money from the Department of Health and Social Care. We fund people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems. Together these represent the most integrated health research system in the world.

We have transformed research in and for the NHS and the social care sector, and helped to shape the health and care research landscape more broadly. Find out more on exactly how we fund our research.

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

The NIHR makes all the information about the research we do available to everyone. You can use this information to learn about a condition or disease, or to help family and friends to understand a new diagnosis. 

Browse our easy-to-read summaries

Our NIHR Evidence website focuses on the results of NIHR projects that we think could change the way people do things. This could be 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 Plain English summaries.


Read our full research articles

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

Take a look at our research articles.


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

Sometimes researchers might use scientific words, or words that people who work in the NHS and social care might understand, but that we don’t use everyday. The NIHR has 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 of all the words you might come across, but it could help you when you’re reading about research. You can take a look at this list, which we call the NIHR glossary, here.

How can I find out about being part of research?

There are research projects happening every day across the UK that need volunteers to take part. Without volunteers, vital research that changes lives could not happen.

Hear from patients, carers and their families, from across England, and their inspiring stories of lives transformed by research.

Every year we ask thousands of volunteers to tell us about their experience of taking part in research. Their feedback is important to improve the way research studies are designed and delivered. Read the report from our latest survey.

You can find out more about how you could be part of research on the other pages in this section. You can either learn about taking part in a study or getting involved with research teams and the NIHR to shape what research is funded and how it is carried out

Related pages

External links

Find out more about NIHR in our latest blogs and case studies