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.

  • Technical lead

    The NICE staff member who has responsibility for quality assuring the technical aspects of NICE guidance.

  • Technology

    At NICE, 'technology' is used to mean a drug or other treatment that is being assessed.
  • Technology appraisal guidance

    NICE technology appraisal guidance makes recommendations on the use of new and existing drugs and treatments in the NHS. If NICE recommends a drug or treatment for a particular condition, the NHS has to make it available for patients with that condition if it is suitable for them. Usually, this has to be done within 3 months of the guidance being issued.
  • Technology Appraisals Programme

    Makes recommendations on the clinical and cost effectiveness of new and existing medicines and treatments within the NHS in England, such as:

    • medicinal products
    • medical devices
    • diagnostic techniques
    • surgical procedures
    • therapeutic technologies other than medical products
    • systems of care
    • screening tools.

    Some of these technologies will be considered by other programmes within NICE.

  • Tertiary care

    Care for people needing complex treatments. People may be referred for tertiary care (for example, a specialist stroke unit) from either primary care or secondary care.

  • Time horizon

    The time period over which the main differences between interventions in effects and the use of resources in health and social care are expected to be experienced, taking into account the limitations of the supporting evidence.

  • Topic lead

    The member of  staff at NICE who is responsible for a diagnostics guidance topic. The topic lead writes the scope and overview documents and drafts the guidance documents. The topic lead is the primary interface with the external assessment group and primary contact for all technical issues.

  • Treatment allocation

    The process by which people in a study are allocated to a treatment group.

  • Treatment options

    The choices of intervention available
  • Triangulation

    Use of 2 or more different research methods in combination; principally used as a check of validity. The more the different methods produce similar results, the more valid the findings.

  • Triple-blind study

    See Blinding or masking