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.

  • Marketing authorisation

    This was previously known as a product licence. Marketing authorisation is granted to medicines that meet the standards of safety, quality and efficacy set by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). It is normally necessary before a medicine can be prescribed or sold.

  • Markov modelling

    A decision-analytic technique that characterises the prognosis of a group by assigning group members to a fixed number of health states and then modelling transitions among the health states.

  • Mass media

    Mass-media interventions use a range of methods to communicate a message. This can include local, regional or national television, radio and newspapers, leaflets and booklets, the internet or mobile phones. Internet communication can include real-time streaming of information and podcasts, discussions with experts and use of social networking sites.

  • Medical devices

    All products, except medicines, used in healthcare to diagnose, prevent, monitor or treat illness or disability. For example, a device might be a pacemaker, knee replacement, X-ray machine or blood pressure monitor.

  • Medical technologies advisory committee

    An independent committee with 2 roles: selecting medical technologies for evaluation by other NICE guidance programmes and developing medical technologies guidance itself.

  • Medical technologies consultation document

    The advisory committee’s provisional recommendations on a medical technology. Stakeholders, health professionals and members of the public can comment on it.

  • Medical Technologies Evaluation Programme

    A programme to identify medical technologies that could offer benefits to patient or the NHS. Manufacturers notify NICE about possible topics. The medical technologies advisory committee selects products for evaluation. It may carry out the evaluation itself or refer the topic to be evaluated by another NICE programme - usually technology appraisals, interventional procedures or diagnostics, or sometimes guidelines.

  • Medical technologies guidance

    Guidance produced by the medical technologies advisory committee on technologies that it evaluates. Medical technologies may also be evaluated by other NICE programmes, and these usually result in diagnostics guidance or technology appraisal guidance.

  • Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

    The Executive Agency of the Department of Health that is responsible for protecting and promoting public health and patient safety by ensuring that medicines, healthcare products and medical equipment meet appropriate standards of safety, quality, performance and effectiveness, and are used safely.

  • Medicines and prescribing associates

    A group of health professionals supported by NICE for whom influencing medicines and prescribing in the NHS is a key part of their job. They are recruited by the Medicines and Prescribing Programme through a selection and assessment process but are not employed by NICE. They work within their own organisation and their local health economy to: support the adoption of NICE and other high-quality guidance into practice and reduce inappropriate variation in prescribing across localities; highlight issues of medicines safety, risk and never events to improve medicines safety; and support the local managed introduction of new medicines.

  • Medtech innovation briefings

    Objective information on device and diagnostic technologies to aid local decision-making by clinicians, managers and procurement professionals.

  • MeSH (medical subject headings)

    The US National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary thesaurus used for indexing articles from biomedical journals for databases such as MEDLINE.
  • Meta-analysis

    A method often used in systematic reviews to combine results from several studies of the same test, treatment or other intervention to estimate the overall effect of the treatment.

  • Methodological quality

    The extent to which a study's research methods conform to recognised good practice.
  • Methodology

    Describes how research is done, including how information is collected and analysed, and why a particular method has been chosen. The overall approach taken by a research project: for example, the study could be a randomised controlled trial of 200 people over 1 year.
  • Minimal clinically important difference (MCID)

    The smallest change in a treatment outcome that people with the condition would identify as important (either beneficial or harmful), and that would lead a person or their clinician to consider a change in treatment.

  • Mixed treatment comparison

    An analysis that compares 2 or more interventions using a combination of direct evidence (from trials that directly compare the interventions of interest) and indirect evidence (trials that do not compare the interventions of interest directly).
  • Morbidity rate

    The number of cases of an illness, injury or condition within a given time (usually a year). It can also refer to the percentage of people with a particular illness, injury or condition within a defined population.
  • Mortality rates

    The proportion of a population that dies within a particular period of time. The rate is often given as a certain number per 1000 people.
  • Multi-centre study

    A study in which people selected to take part come from different locations or populations. For example, from different hospitals or even different countries.

  • Multiple technology appraisal

    A technology appraisal that assesses several drugs or treatments used for 1 condition, or a single drug or treatment that is used for several conditions. Single technologies can also be appraised using this process if there are issues complicating the appraisal, such as a complex situation around the comparator treatments.