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What are some different types of research studies?

There are many different types of research studies. Generally, there are two major types of studies available on Research for Me @UNC: research studies and clinical trials. When a research study is about disease or human health, it is called a clinical research study. When a research study involves drugs or other therapies that aim to slow or stop a disease, then it is called a clinical trial. Volunteers are an important part of all of these research studies! Explore other types of research studies below. 


Survey - Survey studies ask people questions about their knowledge, attitudes, and feelings about a wide range of topics. You can complete these surveys online, over the phone, or by mail. Sometimes, these studies might also be in-person interviews or group discussions.

Lifestyle - Lifestyle studies look at what happens when people participate in different types of activities over a set period of time. You may attend activity sessions in a center or clinic or be asked to change the way that you do something in your daily activities. Often, these studies are interested in how changes in behavior can affect our health or other parts of our lives.

Drug - Drug studies are heavily regulated by the US Government. Studies often involve medications that are not currently available to the general public. They are called “investigational” drugs and have not yet been approved by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) for your normal health care provider to prescribe. Other drug studies may involve comparisons between two or more FDA-approved medications.

Device - Device studies are done to learn if a new medical device helps relieve a certain medical condition. Devices you may be familiar with are pacemakers, diabetes testing meters, and hearing aids. These studies usually involve devices that are not currently available to the general public and have not been approved for use by the FDA. Sometimes, they may be studying an FDA-approved device, but for use in treating a new condition. 

Procedure - Procedure studies learn about the safety and effectiveness of certain medical procedures. Sometimes they compare a new medical procedure to one already in use. Procedures might include things like imaging (x-rays), stitches, blood tests, and surgeries.

Medical Outcomes - Outcomes research studies the end results (outcomes) of the structure and processes of the health care system on the health and well-being of patients and populations. These studies look at clinical practices to see if there are better ways for doctors to help patients manage their medical care. Outcomes research often considers patients’ experiences, preferences, and values – all of which may affect whether or not a medical treatment is best for them. 

Community-based - Community-based research is done through a true partnership of community leaders and organizations with a UNC researcher or research team. The ideas are driven by community members and the research incorporates voices of all involved.  These studies aim to understand problems impacting communities and contribute to solutions through policy or social change. 

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