New study shows benefits to patients from receiving treatment at hospitals that actively carry out research

A widely held assumption that patients benefit from receiving treatment in hospitals active in research has been demonstrated by a new study.

Researchers from the Faculty of Health, Social and Education at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London working with partners at the Health Economics Research Group at Brunel University, London, looked at research papers in a diverse range of areas such as breast cancer treatment and the rehabilitation of veterans with war injuries.

The review, funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research Programme, was carried out in three stages. The researchers identified more than 10,000 academic papers to be considered for the study and eventually identified 33 papers for inclusion in a focused review.

Overall there were positive results of receiving treatment in active research environments as, for example, it in many cases led to ground-breaking treatment options being taken up earlier or clinicians paying closer attention to research in their area of expertise.

Of those, 28 demonstrated that research activities improve health-care performance.

Seven of these also reported some improvement in health outcomes. For the rest, the improved care took the form of improved ways of implementing processes of care.

A larger number of papers were considered in a wider review which showed that where clinicians take part in research it can improve health care for patients as ground breaking methods can be implemented and considered faster.

There is also evidence that those hospitals where research is closely linked to patient care achieve better patient outcomes compared to other hospitals where research is not a priority.

Dr Annette Boaz, a Reader in Health Care Research at Kingston and St George’s, said: “There is a widely held assumption that research engagement improves health-care performance at various levels, but until now very little direct empirical evidence has been drawn together.

“Organisations that have deliberately integrated the research function into organisational structures demonstrate how research engagement can, among other factors, contribute to improved health-care performance.”

Read the whole research paper here.


St Georges, University of London:

Howard Wheeler This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Health Economics Research Group, Brunel University, London

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: 01895 265585

Notes to Editors:

1. The National Institute of Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Programme was established to fund a broad range of research. It builds on the strengths and contributions of two NIHR research programmes: the Health Services Research (HSR) programme and the Service Delivery and Organisation (SDO) programme, which merged in January 2012. The programme aims to produce rigorous and relevant evidence on the quality, access and organisation of health services, including costs and outcomes. The programme will enhance the strategic focus on research that matters to the NHS. The HS&DR Programme is funded by the NIHR with specific contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern 

2. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (

This article/paper/report presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.