Be Part of Research

Communications strategy driving patient participation in clinical trials

Supporting a bid for funding

Without patient participation, the important work of the NIHR – the engine-room driving vital research within the NHS – would not be possible.

A key element of its success is Be Part of Research (formerly called the UK Clinical Trials Gateway), a website which supports the recruitment of patients and members of the public for clinical trials and research studies.

It helps people to make informed choices about getting involved in trials and puts them in touch with researchers running them.

Our mission

Admiral was appointed by the organisation that manages the service, the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (CRN). The promotion, functionality, technical performance and delivery of the service were all under review as part of a CRN funding bid to the Department of Health and Social Care. The CRN was entering into a competitive bid which it would have to win if it was to continue to run the service.

Our role was to review its current status and provide a forward-looking marketing and communications strategy to increase patient engagement.


We conducted a range of qualitative research to inform our recommendations, including interviews with key stakeholders and a focus group with research professionals. This was augmented by significant quantitative surveys to test the insights with a much larger number of patients and researchers.

Findings were analysed and used to shape the final recommendations to the client.


We provided a comprehensive future marketing and communications strategy and plan. Our recommendations included:

  • Renaming the service (the name at the time was the UK Clinical Trials Gateway)
  • Building partnerships with key research charities;
  • Forging closer ties with healthcare professionals;
  • Maximising NIHR linkages and its established patient network; and
  • Refreshing established campaigns to provide a compelling narrative to patients.

Admiral’s work, combined with the allied technical review, ensured the CRN was able to submit a comprehensive review of performance and clear recommendations for future development and marketing. Most importantly, the CRN secured the funding to continue to run the service.