The NICE glossary provides brief definitions and explanations of terms used on the website. The terms describe how NICE works and how its 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.

For terms used in social care, the Care and Support Jargon Buster from Think Local Act Personal is a useful guide to the most commonly used social care words and phrases, and what they mean.

  • Final draft guidance

    Final draft guidance describes the committee's final recommendations. This may be after consultation on draft guidance, or a topic may go straight to final draft guidance.
    It is sent to consultees so that they can appeal, or point out if there has been a process or factual error, before publication.

  • 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 defined population to observe changes in health status, or health- and social care-related variables.

  • Forest plot

    A type of graph used to display the results of a meta-analysis.

  • Foundational guideline

    A NICE guideline consisting of principle-based recommendations that are cross-cutting and cover different areas of health and care, for example, shared decision making, patient experience and transition of care.

  • Free-text terms

    Terms used for searching that are not controlled vocabulary as used in the database or information source, but standard terms used in natural language.

  • Frequency

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

    The version of a guideline that contains the recommendations, detailed descriptions of the evidence and an explanation of how the recommendations were developed. It is written by the NICE team responsible for the guideline, and a guideline committee.

  • 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 on 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.