The NICE Glossary provides brief definitions and explanations of terms used on our site. The terms describe how we work and how our guidance is produced.

Our glossary excludes specific clinical and medical terms. If you cannot find the term you are looking for, please email us so that we can consider adding it to the glossary.

Some definitions and examples are based on those in the 'HTAi consumer and patient glossary', with thanks to Health Technology Assessment International.

  • Final appraisal determination

    The Appraisal Committee's final draft guidance about using a treatment or group of treatments in the NHS (technology appraisal guidance). Consultees can appeal against the recommendations set out in the final appraisal determination. If there is no appeal, or an appeal is not upheld, the final appraisal determination is issued by NICE as guidance.
  • Final interventional procedures document

    The Interventional Procedures Advisory Committee's final draft guidance document about whether a procedure should be used in the NHS (interventional procedures guidance). There is a 'resolution' period during which a consultee can raise a resolution request if they think that the guidance is inaccurate or the process has not been followed. If there are no requests for resolution, NICE issues the guidance.
  • Focus group

    Used for some types of qualitative research. Usually, between 6 and 12 people have a group interview or discussion on a particular topic. It is a good way to find out how people feel or think about an issue, or to come with possible solutions to a problem.
  • Follow-up

    Observation over a period of time of a person, group or initially defined population whose characteristics have been assessed in order to observe changes in health status or health-related variables.
  • Forest plot

    A graphical display to compare the degree of similarity or heterogeneity between studies.
  • Free-text terms

    Data entered into a field without any formal or predefined structure other than the normal use of grammar and punctuation.
  • Frequency

    The number of times an event occurs during a specified period of time.
  • Full guideline

    The version of a guideline on a clinical topic that contains the recommendations, detailed descriptions of the evidence and an explanation of how the recommendations were developed. It is written by the National Collaborating Centre or NICE team responsible for the guideline, and a Guideline Development Group.
  • Funnel plot

    A visual way of showing how the results of several studies of the same treatment vary. Usually the effect of treatment in each study is plotted in a graph against the number of people involved. Ideally, the points fall into an inverted funnel shape. If they do not, publication bias or other problems are likely.
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