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"OK to Ask" Campaign


    It’s ‘OK to ask’ about clinical research!




Each year, on International Clinical Trials Day (ICTD) (20 May), HSC R&D Division, and our HSC partners, will highlight that it’s ‘OK to ask’ about clinical research.

'OK to ask' is national campaign lead by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) in England and aims to encourage patients, carers and the public to ask their health professional about research opportunities that might be available to them and remind health and social care professionals to be research aware.

A recent survey conducted by the NIHR Clinical Research Network found that 95% of respondents thought that it was important that research is conducted in the NHS but less than 21% of those surveyed felt confident enough to ask their doctor about research opportunities.

ICTD is celebrated around the world on 20 May each year to commemorate the day in 1747 that James Lind started his famous trial on the deadly disease scurvy. While serving as a surgeon on HMS Salisbury he began his trial which consisted of just 12 men, grouped into pairs and given a variety of dietary supplements ranging from cider to oranges and lemons. The trial only lasted six days but, within that time, there was a noticeable improvement in the group eating the fruit, providing Lind with evidence of the link between citrus fruits and scurvy.

Lind’s trial provides a focal point to raise awareness of the importance of research to healthcare and highlights how partnerships between patients and healthcare practitioners are vital to ensure high-quality, relevant research is undertaken. Lind's experiments were conducted under very different conditions than todays. Clinical trials have developed a great deal since Lind's discovery, and on 20 May we remember his influential work and the importance of research in healthcare.

We want as many people as possible to get involved with the campaign, make their voices heard and help us remind people that research is important.

You can support the ok to ask campaign by:

  • Asking your HSC professional about research for you or someone you care for

  • Holding your own event and sending us your photos (download OK to Ask poster)  -

  • Contacting us using social media (see the OK to Ask leaflet)

   follow updates on Twitter @publichealthni
   using #HSCok2ask whenTweeting
  • Contacting us by email at and telling us: that you asked for information; what response you received; about your experience of taking part in research; any additional comments.

Please see pictures of events to mark International Clinical Trials Day on 20 May 201520 May 2016 and 22 May 2017.




The 2014 campaign was launched by the Chief Medical Officer at Stormont at an event attended by academics, health professionals and members of the public.  A programme of speakers talked about the work they were doing in clinical research in Northern Ireland and the infrastructure now available to support high quality clinical trials and other HSC research in Northern Ireland. 


In 2014 events were also held in each of the 5 HSC Trusts.

The image below shows the OK to Ask Campaign in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust with staff from the Research Office and the Clinical Research Network.