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.

  • Validity

    Whether a test or study actually measures what it aims to measure. Internal validity shows whether a study or test is appropriate for the question, for example, whether a study of exercise among gym members measures the amount of exercise people do at the gym, not simply whether people join. External validity is the degree to which the results of a study hold true in non-study situations, for example, in routine NHS practice. It may also be referred to as the generalisability of study results to non-study populations. For example, the external validity of a study that took place in Spain may be questioned if the results were to be applied to people in Australia.

  • Very brief intervention

    A very brief intervention (for example, very brief advice) can take from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes. It is mainly about giving people information, or directing them where to go for further help. It may also include other activities such as raising awareness of risks, or providing encouragement and support for change. It follows an 'ask, advise, assist' structure.