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Health & Social Care Research Across North East & North Cumbria.

Getting Started

Start your route to research

New to research and want to get involved? Hear why research is so important and explore our videos, podcasts and stories to find out how colleagues started their research journey.

1 What is research?

Research helps answer questions, filling the gaps in our knowledge and practice. It provides evidence to better understand human disease, preventing and treating illness, and promoting health and wellbeing across communities in our region. 

Research can be designed in different ways to try and get as close as possible to answering key questions and developing our knowledge.

Research aims to drive quality because it provides the evidence we all need to inform best practice.

All research involves: 

  • asking a question
  • designing a study to answer the question (and getting approval to carry it out!)
  • gathering data to answer that question 
  • analysing that data, drawing conclusions
  • potentially disseminating into practice 

Across the North East and North Cumbria you'll find a huge diversity of research taking place in our communities and services. There are plenty of opportunities for you and colleagues to be involved in some or all of these elements.

North East and North Cumbria in black text overlaid onto a blue map, with outlines of regional boroughs marked.

Did you know?

In 2021/22, the North East and North Cumbria recruited 56,767 participants to 790 studies.

Find out more about the differences between clinical health, public health, and social care research

Why: To develop the evidence base to inform and improve the physical and mental health of the public.

Where: All our trusts are research active. There is a huge variety of research from basic science, qualitative methods and clinical trials. 

Research can take place in any healthcare setting, such as GP surgeries, pharmacies, drop-in health centres, hospitals and universities. Research can also place in less traditional locations, such as shopping centres, and online through social media and video consultations.

Who: Anyone can take part in clinical health research. For most research, there is a defined group of individuals who match specific requirements or have particular health concerns which relate to the research question. Some studies also need people who do not have the particular health condition to take part as a comparison.

Researchers guide participants through the stages of the study, which are described in a set of instructions called a protocol. This could be by answering questions, undergoing measurements or providing blood samples, for example.

 

Why: To develop the evidence base for prevention and for both individual and population health research.

Where: Public health research is wide ranging and focuses on both populations and individuals as well as the prevention of common health issues. Settings are also wide ranging and include the NHS, local authorities, charities, commercial organisations, schools and prisons. Sometimes the research may require multiple stakeholders across many settings working together to deliver sometimes complex interventions.

Who: Public health research can include whole populations (for example the UK population), or can include specific populations chosen for example, by their geographic location, their ethnicity, their age or their social or economic environment. 

Whilst public health research often  aims to be preventative (primary, secondary, tertiary), there is a huge amount of research undertaken where individuals already have a long term condition, for example diabetes management, COPD and mental health illness. 

Making Every Contact Count (MECC) is an approach to behaviour change that uses the millions of day-to-day interactions that organisations and people have with other people to support them in making positive changes to their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Have you heard of Fuse? This is the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health located in our region - a virtual centre, operating across five universities: Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside. Fuse is also one of the nine leading academic centres in England that make up the NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR).

Take a look at the links below to find out more.

 

Why? Social care research provides the evidence base to inform and improve social care practice.

Where? Social care research takes place in a diverse range of settings including settings can include people’s homes, residential care homes and hospices.

Social care is provided for a wide range of purposes, from safeguarding vulnerable individuals to promoting the independence and wellbeing of recipients. Participants in social care research include children and young people, their families, adults who need personal or practical care and support, their carers, and those providing social care services (frontline workers, managers, commissioners).

Who can take part? Individuals may be invited to take part in research studies via a number of routes, including:
● social care practitioners (e.g. social workers, support workers, care workers).
● by a local authority manager.
● service providers (with appropriate permission from a gatekeeper).
● by direct contact from research staff.

People who are eligible to take part in a study will be given information about the study and what participation would involve.

You may be interested in the NIHR Research for Social Care (RfSC) call, which is for research that targets children, young people and adults, and the Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme.

3 How research benefits us all

Research happens every day, right across all our health and care services. It is critical to help discover which interventions work better for the people and communities we serve. It helps to find answers, fill gaps in knowledge and ensure best practice. In fact, the findings from research become the cornerstones of what we all do every day.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important research is - this is just one of the many ways research has helped us to do our job better.

 

Find out more about the benefits of research

 

People value the opportunity to participate in research studies and evidence shows that those who receive care in research-active institutions have better health outcomes.

You'll also be supporting your organisation, for example by

  • improving outcomes in Care Quality Commission (CQC) assessments
  • enhancing patient care
  • supporting staff recruitment and retention
  • strengthening collaboration across the region

Best patient care is based on the best clinical evidence and many healthcare professionals say they find the experience of being involved in research studies positive and rewarding, as well as helping their career.

4 Explore colleagues' routes to research and their top tips

Listen to "The Next Generation Podcast"

In this series of podcasts you'll hear from experienced researchers, research leaders and newer researchers working in the North East and North Cumbria who will share with you their personal reflections and insights into how they got started in research, how they overcame some of the challenges of healthcare research and what keeps their passion going. These are the people who are living and breathing research.

5 What next?

Explore our 3 suggestions to get started today!

Try and have conversations with people about research. Did you know nearly 95% of people who take part in research would like to be asked again. Often, it's about being able to give people the right information at the right time so they can make the choice that is right for them. 

Have you heard of "Be Part of Research"? This is a great online resource that helps members of the public understand what research is, what taking part might involve, as well as helping people find research studies and volunteer. Take 5 minutes to have a look and then tell people about it! 

Finding out what is happening in your organisation is a great way to start promoting research awareness and exploring how you can get involved. You may be surprised to find out how much is happening! 

We know you are busy and it can be difficult to find the time to think about your professional development. We hope spending time exploring this website will help!

Here is a stepped approach to think about your journey into research.

Being research aware: starting to build your knowledge, skills and experience of research

Being research ready: having sufficient research knowledge and experience to use research in your work going forward

Being research engaged: having sufficient research knowledge and confidence to incorporate aspects of research and use aspects of research in your day-to-day work 

Being research competent: delivering and/or generating independent research, thereby achieving the ultimate goal of becoming the embedded researcher of the future.