Medical Research

Getting Involved With Medical Research

Patient participation in medical research is critical. Patient involvement helps researchers understand the issues involved with living with the disease. It gives researchers insights about the disease that doctors and other health care providers may not be able to give. And it makes it more likely that the research will lead to care that better meets patients’ needs, and that doctors and others will put into practice.

Types of Medical Research  

Not all medical research studies are the same. Plus, many types of medical research often work together or build upon each other. All medical research aims to improve health and ability. Medical research is about you, your family and friends. It’s about preventing illness, restoring health and saving lives.

The most common types of medical research are:

  • Basic science research – Research that increases knowledge about how living organisms work, how the human body functions in health and illness and what causes disease.
  • Clinical research – Research that targets how to prevent and treat disease. Clinical research may include having volunteers use drugs or medical treatments. Or it can involve observing people with the disease, such as how their condition changes over time.
  • Population-based research – Also known as “public health research,” this research focuses on ways to improve the health of a population. It looks at ways to manage and prevent injury, illness and disease through nonmedical methods in the places where people live, work, learn and play. For example, what happens when you change the nutritional value of the food offered by school cafeterias?
  • Health services research – This type of research studies how our health system works and how to improve health care delivery. It looks at what works, for whom, in what settings, under what circumstances, and at what cost.
  • Translational research – This research works to advance the results of each type of research to improve patient care.

Any one type of research on its own cannot fully improve health. Taken together, they can make significant improvements in health outcomes. This means people will have access to and benefit from medical advances.

AAFA’s Food Allergy Patient & Family Registry is built around patient-provided data. This means the patient’s perspective will shape future research efforts. The patient voice will influence decisions about what research issues to pursue and how to best structure studies.

Selected Resources

AcademyHealth, Allergy & Asthma Network, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, GlaxoSmithKline, and Research!America Joint Congressional Briefing. “From Discovery to Delivery: Research at Work Against Asthma and Allergies.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Food Allergies in Schools

Clinical Trials

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)