Why is Research Important


Research refers to systematic enquiry into society and nature to refine and validate existing knowledge while generating new knowledge (Naidoo 2011). On the other hand, Young (2015) define research as a systematic investigation that aims at developing and contributing to generalizable knowledge. In health and social care, the most common type of research is clinical trials where patients volunteer to take part in studies aimed at testing the safety and efficacy of new medical interventions (Novitzke 2008). On the contrary, Dobrow et al. (2017) write that most health is information based where researchers analyse already existing biological samples and data to develop new knowledge. Similarly, Rivera et al. (2017) note that a large portion of health research analyses secondary data which included patterns of occurrences, natural history, and determinants of illnesses; evaluating care interventions, and surveillance of drug safety. Health research can be both qualitative and quantitative, and is the study of the effect of social factors, organisational structure, financing systems, personal behaviour, and health technologies on cost and quality of health care, access to health care, and health and wellbeing (Hughes 2008). Regardless the type, research is important in health and social care. This essay discusses the importance of research in health and social care.


Importance of Research

Health research provides important information required in patient care. Dobrow et al. (2017) note that health research provides information on illness trends and risk factors, pattern of care, treatment outcomes, care interventions, functional abilities, and costs of health care (Karimi and Brazier 2016). On the other hand, Sacristán (2015) writes that clinical trials provide information on adverse effects and efficacy of medical interventions which is attained through controlling variable that could potentially affect the results of the study. From a different perspective, Choudhry et al. (2005) state that collecting information from clinicians of their clinical experience helps compare and improve the use of vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, and medical devises for high standard care. The authors therefore state that by tracking clinical experience, health researchers are able to identify adverse effects and determine the effectiveness of drugs in different populations. On the other hand, Young (2015) write that assessing clinical experience helps develop guidelines for best practices, which ensures patient care is of high quality. Thus, health research is essential in health and social care as it provides information that helps improve the quality of care.

Health research leads to significant discoveries in care delivery. Sacristán (2015) notes that clinical trials in particular lead to development of new therapies which remarkably improves public health and health care. In agreement, Rivera et al. (2017) write that health research helps discover new interventions that enormously improve longevity and human health, which in turn has a positive effect on national economy. Still, note discoveries and developments arising from health research have individual and national benefits thus if health research is less robust or impeded, significant societal interests would be adversely affected. Hatfield et al. (2001) indicate that Herceptin as a treatment for breast cancer is among the new developments realised through health research and it has improved quality of life as well as built the national economy. Research remains key to innovations in health and social care. For example, the NHS uses research evidence to improve patient outcomes and transform services resulting in increased value for money. Thus, health research leads to discoveries and developments in health and social care which are positively attributed to high quality care.

Information-based research aids interpretation of phenomenon. According to Dobrow et al. (2017), research that uses health information databases detects unexpected phenomena and differences in subpopulations that might be omitted in controlled experimental studies. Similarly, Rivera et al. (2017) note that information-based research can be used to study the effectiveness of certain tests or interventions in clinical practice rather than just the efficacy which is determined using controlled experimental studies. Further, Young (2015) indicate that information-based research re-examines accrued data to provide answers to new questions in a quick and inexpensive way. From a different perspective, Gostin et al. (2009) note that information-based research facilitates personalised medicine in which prevention strategies and treatments are tailored to individuals based on genetic composition and health history. Information-based research has led to the understanding that most drugs are effective in only small fractions of patients who have the condition for which the drug is indicated. Thus, information-based research has facilitated interpretation of phenomena.

Health research can be either qualitative or quantitative. While quantitative research is concerned with numerical representativity, qualitative research seeks to deepen the understanding of a given problem. For example, Cancer Research UK conducts and funds qualitative research to discover new cancer treatments. Qualitative research is also known to be key in improving health outcomes as it facilitates a better understanding of patients’ needs (Selby and Autier 2011). In addition, Young (2015) note that qualitative research allows patients and service users to spend more time with care providers and as a result, the latter gain a better understanding of patient needs thus promoting patient-centred care. Further, Sacristán (2015) write that participating in qualitative research gives patients a better understanding of their conditions and management. For these strengths, qualitative research is more common and more effective in health and social care (Harding et al. 2017).

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Undoubtedly, health research has high value not only for individuals but also for the entire nation. Students and health practitioners should embrace health research as it educates, offers solutions to problems in health and social care, provides in-depth knowledge, leads to new developments, facilitates understanding of phenomenon, and improves the quality of health outcomes. In particular, clinical trials test the efficacy of new interventions ensuring only the most effective drugs and interventions are implemented. On the other hand, information-based research leads to better understanding of phenomena as well as development of new knowledge. Therefore, research is integral to high-quality care in health and social care.


Choudhry, N.K., Fletcher, R.H. and Soumerai, S.B., 2005. Systematic review: the relationship between clinical experience and quality of health care. Annals of Internal medicine, 142(4), pp.260-273.

Dobrow, M.J., Miller, F.A., Frank, C. and Brown, A.D., 2017. Understanding relevance of health research: considerations in the context of research impact assessment. Health research policy and systems, 15(1), p.31.

Gostin, L.O., Levit, L.A. and Nass, S.J. eds., 2009. Beyond the HIPAA privacy rule: enhancing privacy, improving health through research. National Academies Press.

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Meeks, D.W., Smith, M.W., Taylor, L., Sittig, D.F., Scott, J.M. and Singh, H., 2014. An analysis of electronic health record-related patient safety concerns. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 21(6), pp.1053-1059.

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Rivera, S.C., Kyte, D.G., Aiyegbusi, O.L., Keeley, T.J. and Calvert, M.J., 2017. Assessing the impact of healthcare research: A systematic review of methodological frameworks. PLoS medicine, 14(8), p.e1002370.

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Selby, P. and Autier, P., 2011. The impact of the process of clinical research on health service outcomes. Annals of oncology, 22(Suppl_7), pp.vii5-vii9.

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