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.
People in a study recruited from part of the study's target population. If they are recruited in an unbiased way, the results from the sample can be generalised to the target population as a whole.
The way people are selected for inclusion in a study.
For guidelines, a search of the literature done at the scoping stage to identify previous clinical guidelines, health technology assessment reports, key systematic reviews and economic evaluations relevant to the guideline topic.
Selecting outcomes to include in the publication of a trial based on results. The concern is that statistically non-significant results might be selectively withheld from publication.
How well a test detects what it is testing for. It is the proportion of people with the disease or condition that are correctly identified by the study test. For example, a test with a sensitivity of 96% will, on average, correctly identify 96 people in every 100 who truly have the condition, but incorrectly identify as not having the condition 4 people in every 100 who truly have it. It is different from positive predictive value.
A means of exploring uncertainty in the results of economic evaluations. There may be uncertainty because data are missing, estimates are imprecise or there is controversy about methodology. Sensitivity analysis can also be used to see how applicable results are to other settings. The analysis is repeated using different assumptions to examine the effect of these assumptions on the results.
An effect of a drug (or treatment or intervention) that is additional to the main intended effect. It could be good, bad or neutral, and that might depend on the circumstances. For example, a side effect of an antidepressant might be drowsiness. That could be a beneficial effect if a person with depression has problems sleeping, but not if they are trying to drive. See also Adverse effect.
See Blinding or masking
Social care generally refers to all forms of personal care and other practical assistance for children, young people and adults who need extra support. This includes:
The decisions in NICE guidance are based on the best available evidence. Sometimes the available evidence is not of good quality or can be incomplete, so the committees involved have to make scientific value judgements and social value judgements. Social value judgements take account of society’s expectations, preferences, culture and ethical principles when making recommendations. Our social value judgements document sets out how committees should take into account factors such as the need to distribute health resources in the fairest way within society as a whole.
Description of a person's position in society using criteria such as their occupation, income or level of education.
How well a test correctly identifies people who do not have what it is testing for. It is the proportion of people without the disease or condition that are correctly identified by the study test. For example, a test with a specificity of 96% will, on average, correctly identify 96 people in every 100 who truly do not have the condition, but incorrectly identify as having the condition 4 people in every 100 who truly do not have it. It is different from negative predictive value.
A structured approach for developing review questions that divides each question into 5 components: the setting (the context of a study); the perspective (who it is for); the intervention(s) (what was done); the comparison (the other main interventions); and evaluation (what was found).
An organisation with an interest in a topic that NICE is developing guidance on. Organisations that register as stakeholders can comment on the draft scope and the draft guidance. Stakeholders may be:
The statistical relationship between 2 or more events, characteristics or other variables. The relationship may or may not be causal.
A statistically significant result is one that is assessed as being due to a true effect rather than random chance. See P value.
A research technique in which the interviewer asks all the people in the study a list of pre-set questions.
Refers to the various errors or biases inherent in a study. See also Bias.
A review that summarises the evidence on a clearly formulated review question according to a predefined protocol, using systematic and explicit methods to identify, select and appraise relevant studies, and to extract, analyse, collate and report their findings. It may or may not use statistical techniques, such as meta-analysis.
A disease that affects the person's whole body.