I want to take part in a research study

Health and care research changes lives. It is through research that we develop better treatments, as well as improve diagnosis, prevention, care and quality of life for everyone.

But this vital research is only possible thanks to more than 732,000 people, of all ages, who took part in research last year. These people help to change lives and improve health and social care for all. However, the more people who take part, the faster we can make improvements to health and care.

Who can take part in research?

Why should I take part?

People want to take part in health or social care research for many reasons:

  • To improve health and social care for others, as well as giving hope for future generations.
  • To learn more about their condition.
  • To be more closely and regularly monitored.
  • To try a new treatment or device.
  • To help researchers learn important new information.

You can read more about what other people think about taking part in our ‘real life stories’ section and in the feedback from our latest ‘Participant in research experience survey’.

90% of participants had a good experience of taking part in NIHR research.*

* Based on a 2018/19 NIHR Participant experience of research survey of 8,500 participants


Graphic showing what taking part in research can involve

What kind of research can I take part in?

There are many different types of research. For example, some studies test new treatments or require samples. Others may involve interviews or surveys. A study might take place in a hospital, GP practice, or other health and care locations in the community (e.g. hospice) but some studies can also be done at home, online or by telephone.

Some research may require your one-off involvement, while others may have several follow ups over a period of time.

Researchers will explain what’s involved in their study before you decide if you want to take part. It’s always your choice whether to take part and you can change your mind at anytime.


How can I find a study I can take part in?

Often studies look for people living with a particular condition. But others may be seeking people who care for someone with a long-term illness, or people who do not have a condition (these people are sometimes called ‘healthy volunteers’). Everyone can make a difference, whatever their circumstances.

You can ask your doctor, nurse or healthcare professional about clinical trials or other health and care studies that you may be suitable for.

Alternatively, use one of the NIHR’s services to find a study you would like to volunteer for.

NHS Covid-19 Vaccine Research Registry


COVID-19 vaccine research is currently taking place at NHS hospitals and care settings across the United Kingdom, with thousands of people volunteering to help find vaccines to fight the disease.

Vaccines save thousands of lives every year, and they are the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases.  We still need further research into the vaccines, to look at how best to protect communities and the population as a whole. To let researchers know you are happy to be contacted about taking part in COVID-19 vaccine studies, you can visit the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry. You will then be contacted if they think you are suitable to take part.

To find answers to frequently asked questions about taking part in COVID-19 vaccine studies or which vaccines you could be contacted by, visit Be Part of Research.


Be Part of Research

Be Part of Research is an online service which helps people understand what research is, what taking part might involve, as well as helping people find studies and volunteer to take part.

You can use the search tool to look for current UK research investigating illnesses or conditions that are of interest to you, or to find studies that may be taking place near to where you live.

For example, if you’re looking to take part in social care research, you can use the search bar to find relevant research studies currently looking for volunteers across the UK.

Once you’ve found a study, you can see all the details including who to contact so you can ask to take part. You can also download, save or print the full study details so you can talk to your doctor, nurse or healthcare professional.

Join Dementia Research

Join Dementia Research is a nationwide service, delivered in partnership with leading dementia charities, helping to accelerate vital dementia research in the UK.  

Working like a matchmaking service, simply register your details and a researcher will be in touch when an appropriate study becomes available.

People with dementia or memory problems, their carers and anyone who is interested can sign up. You can sign up online, over the phone or by post.

Once registered, you can decide if you would like to participate in the studies you match to on a case-by-case basis, with no obligation.


The NIHR BioResource helps researchers understand more about the links between genes, the environment, health and disease.

Bioresource is a panel of thousands of volunteers, with and without health problems, who are willing to be approached to participate in research.

If you decide to join you will donate a blood or saliva sample, so your DNA can be extracted. You will be asked to complete a healthcare questionnaire, a consent form and to grant access to your medical and healthcare records.

Your sample will be matched to suitable studies and you will be invited to a maximum of four studies per year. You can choose whether or not to take part in these.

Related pages

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