The high quality of medical care provided to patients is built upon the effort of thousands of researchers in the field of medicine. Much more research is needed in future to provide insight into the major health problems. Identifying the health needs and directing researchers into these areas will definitely help to achieve better health for the people all over the world.
Types of research
Medical research can be divided into two general categories – preclinical research and clinical research.
Preclinical research is the key step in the development of new treatment modalities. It is carried out in the laboratory as in-vitro tests to isolate a cell or tissue outside the living organism or as in-vivo tests in living organisms.
Clinical research directly involves a particular person or group of people. It can be patient oriented research, which includes therapies or interventions for disease. The outcomes research seeks to identify the most effective interventions and treatments.
Clinical trials test potential treatments in human volunteers to see whether they should be approved for wider use in the general population. Treatments with acceptable safety profiles are considered for use in clinical trials; which are integral part of new product development and are required by regulatory authorities before a new product is brought to the market.
Steps in Clinical Research
Steps involved in the clinical research process include developing the study concept, preparing the protocol for the study, protecting the participants through clinical and regulatory compliance, implementing and monitoring the study, closing the study, analyzing the data, interpreting the results and communicating the results.
Other Areas of Medical Research
Some other important areas of research are the following:
a) Preventive Medicine Research focuses on promoting health in individuals by detecting illness as early as possible and maximizing the available functions.
b) Epidemiological Research focuses on how disease spreads, the risk factors for disease, the optimal medical solution to diseases and to evaluate how successful a medical treatment has been.
c) Behavioural Health Research focuses on how our behavior affects the health and how illnesses affect our emotions and behavior. This includes research into social factors and life style factors which affect our health.
d) Molecular Biology Research: The two main areas of research in molecular biology are genes and proteins. Gene therapy is the cutting edge field of medicine that potentially offers the most important opportunity to care many serious diseases. Further advances in molecular biology research will certainly help to cure most of the serious diseases of the present generation.
There should be long-term targets for health research. We should create a plan of action for proper research utilization to achieve health care for all. The quality of clinical research can be improved by having multidisciplinary research team, which will help to create links with a wide spectrum of medical disciplines. There should be a multifaceted approach in medical research incorporating a strong commitment to ethics.
Benefits of Medical Research
Research has demonstrated that many diseases can be prevented or managed more effectively through new procedures or therapies. There have been profound developments recently in the field of medicine especially in genetics, molecular biology and imaging techniques. Medical research has led to cures for life threatening disorders and has dramatically improved the quality of life of people. The disease incidence, the mortality rate and levels of disability have come down. Research has enabled health care to become more effective and efficient.