June is research month at The Disabilities Trust and we have been inviting our staff and the people who use our services to discuss their thoughts on research. The Research Month initiative intends to encourage people to get involved and to raise awareness of the importance of research in promoting good practice and innovation.

There is increasing evidence that being involved in research can have positive effects on outcomes. For example, in a systematic review, Nijjar and colleagues [1] found that participants in randomised controlled trials had 25% better odds of improved women’s health outcomes. This was enhanced in high quality trials, and interestingly, the benefit was sustained whether the researched intervention was effective or not.

A study by Downing and colleagues [2] found an association between hospital level participation in interventional clinical trials and cancer outcomes. Hospitals with high research participation were linked with lower mortality rates and higher 5-year survival rates. This effect remained after adjusting for case mix and hospital characteristics. More recently, Selby and colleagues [3] proposed a model of the mechanisms that might link clinical research to improved outcomes, including better performance and faster uptake of evidence-based practice. These findings come from the fields of obstetrics, and cancer research, but there is every reason to hypothesise that they might extend to other areas of health care, including brain injury.

Wide involvement in research, however, does not materialise overnight. Our first year of Research Month has been but one step in starting to make this happen within our services. But the journey will carry on... To find out how we are doing, our Research Digest Page is the one to visit for regular updates. Please email research@thedtgroup.org with your questions or suggestions.

[1] Nijjar, S. K., D'amico, M. I., Wimalaweera, N. A., Cooper, N. A. M., Zamora, J., & Khan, K. S. (2017). Participation in clinical trials improves outcomes in women's health: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 124(6), 863-871.

[2] Downing, A., Morris, E. J., Corrigan, N., Sebag-Montefiore, D., Finan, P. J., Thomas, J. D., Chapman, M., Hamilton, R., Campbell, H., Cameron, D., Kaplan, R., Parmar, M., Stephens, R., Seymour, M., Gregory, W. & Selby, P. (2017). High hospital research participation and improved colorectal cancer survival outcomes: a population-based study. Gut, 66(1), 89-96.

[3] Selby, P., Liu, L., Downing, A., Banks, I., Wilson, R., Stephens, R., Meunier, F., Rochon, J., Morris, E., Seymour, M., Gregory, W., Lawler, M., & Boaz, A. (2019). How can clinical research improve European health outcomes in cancer?. Journal of Cancer Policy, 20, 100182.