Our research studies aim to find out important information in response to a health question in a structured way. A well designed study provides reliable evidence that can help improve NHS services and treatments and the knowledge and understanding of health professionals.
There are many different types of research from studies in a scientific laboratory to those that observe and examine people with different conditions or develop and test new medicines, treatments or devices. Research might be also be concerned with preventing disease and promoting good heath, or finding out people’s experience of different services and support in the community.
Health care research can help us to:
- identify people at risk of getting ill and therefore prevent illness
- provide the best advice and treatment for people
- share knowledge and understanding about different conditions
- find out what people think about services
- assess how effective services are
- improve the environment, health and wellbeing of a local population.
What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are a type of high quality clinical research study that usually involve large numbers of patients in order to test new treatments against current standard care. Trials help us to find out if new treatments, devices or therapies are safe, what their side effects might be and whether they are any better than the current standard treatments.
We are currently involved in running a diverse range of clinical trials at University Hospitals Sussex (UHSussex), from testing new gastric and oesophageal cancer tests, looking at best treatment after a stroke to optimising care of mothers during pregnancy and birth.
Clinical trials have to conform to strict UK regulations to ensure they are as safe as possible for patients taking part in them.
Experimental drug trials are categorised into one of four phases:
- phase I clinical trials test a new drug or treatment for the first time in a small group of ‘healthy’ volunteers
- phase II clinical trials test the study drug or treatment with a larger group of people, including patients with the particular disease
- phase III clinical trials test the study drug or treatment with large groups of people, including patients, to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, and compare it to other commonly used treatments
- phase IV clinical trials are done after the drug or treatment has been approved for public use. These studies continue testing the drug or treatment to collect information about its effect in various populations.
Further information about clinical trials is available on the NHS website.
Other research studies
Not all research studies are conducted as clinical trials; valuable information to help improve healthcare for patients can also be gained from carrying out observational research. Such research may simply involve collecting information from our patients and their medical records, and is just as important in finding out whether something works, or, on occasion, doesn’t have a measurable benefit. Where patients consent to participate as volunteers, studies might utilise interviews or questionnaires to generate research data, or researchers may carry out tests on patients in a clinical setting.