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 appraisal document

    The appraisal committee's final draft guidance about using a treatment or group of treatments in the NHS (technology appraisal guidance).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 document. If there is no appeal, or an appeal is not upheld, the final appraisal document is issued by NICE as guidance.

  • Final draft guidance

    Final draft guidance describes the committee's final recommendations. This may be after consultation on draft guidance, or it may go straight to final draft guidance.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.

  • Final evaluation determination

    The evaluation committee’s final recommendations about using a highly specialised technology in the NHS in England. Consultees can appeal against the final recommendations in the final evaluation 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    The interventional procedures advisory committee's final draft guidance document about whether a procedure should be used in the NHS (interventional procedures guidance).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 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.

  • 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 Development Centre or 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.