There are many types of research ongoing within the Trust. Some of it may look at the effects of standard treatments, while other research may investigate whether new treatments offer any benefit, or how the NHS can best organise and provide services.
Most research in the NHS involves people, often patients, and is usually referred to as 'clinical research' or 'medical research'. One particular type of research, the clinical trial, compares the effects of two or more treatments.
Clinical trials help to find out if:
- treatments are safe
- treatments have any side effects
- new treatments are better than available standard treatments
Many NHS treatments have been tested in clinical trials.
Laboratory or test tube research
Before new medicines are tested in clinical trials, they are tested in laboratories. Only when laboratory research has shown that they are likely to work and unlikely to cause serious side effects will they go on to be tested in clinical trials.
The medicines will often be tested on cells taken from living tissue that are grown and kept alive artificially (cell cultures).
Epidemiology is research that looks at patterns of illness and disease in groups of people and tries to identify the causes of disease.
These studies may look to
- compare people who have a disease (cases) with people without the disease (controls)
- see what happens to a group of people (a cohort) and to then compare those who develop a disease with those who do not
- identify patterns in populations and may find associations between environmental factors, such as diet, and disease