Methods research areas

Methods research helps us keep improving the methods we use to produce guidance. It also helps us anticipate and adapt to innovative new health technologies and treatments, policy developments and changes in health and social care delivery.

We're actively involved in this type of research and currently working on 10 priority research topics. We particularly welcome opportunities to work with you on research projects that will address any of these priority topics.

We also welcome approaches for collaboration on other emerging methods research areas that can help us improve and adapt our methods to the ever changing innovation ecosystem.

By partnering with us, you can get unique insight into the real-life practicalities of assessing health and social care interventions.

Contact our research team

Our priority areas

  1. Data science and analytics

    We aim to harness the principles of data science to further our knowledge, using big data and real-world data (RWD) for the benefit of the wider health and social care system. Our projects (such as EHDEN, HARMONY and HTx) explore how to analyse and interpret real-world data collected outside randomised controlled trials in observational studies.

    We're open to collaboration with external organisations and data and analytics companies on use cases that show the potential for using RWD to inform our guidance development.

  2. Measuring and valuing quality of life

    We're supporting research exploring how to measure and value quality of life in children and in carers. We're also part of the steering group for the EQ-5D-5L valuation study in the UK and are supporting the development of the EQ-HWB instrument which can be used to measure quality of life across health and social care. 

  3. Precision medicine

    We're working on projects that assess how optimal outcomes can be achieved by tailoring treatments received to individual level needs using prediction modelling (EHDEN, HTx) and point of care diagnostics (VALUE-Dx). Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning methods to develop these models is also explored as part of the EHDEN and HTx projects.

    We've also previously carried out an assessment of whether our methods need to be adapted to evaluate oncology drugs that are licensed based on a biomarker rather than a tumour location (histology-independent indications).

  4. Digital health

    We're developing methods for the assessment of digital health technologies and how health technology assessment (HTA) agencies should approach the appraisal of these technologies. Our Office for Digital Health is collaborating with an academic consortium of Imperial College, University of Birmingham and the Alan Turing Institute to update the evidence standards framework (ESF) for the assessment of digital health technologies, and create new evidence standards for AI in health and care.

    We're also studying the ideal approach for utilisation of digital endpoints and data generated using wearables in neurodegeneration research projects, from an HTA perspective, as part of the NEURONET project.

  5. Antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistance

    We're involved in projects to support the development of new antimicrobials and to tackle antimicrobial resistance. This includes our work on evaluation and payment models for new antimicrobials in collaboration with NHS England and NHS Improvement.

    Our project VALUE-Dx looks into the value of point of care diagnostics to guide prescribing antibiotics for lower respiratory tract infections appropriately and combat antimicrobial resistance. We are also partners in the IMI ERA4TB project which is a public-private initiative devoted to accelerating the development of new treatment regimens for tuberculosis.

    We have also developed best practice guidance for the assessment of diagnostics and therapeutics, including antivirals, for COVID-19 as part of HTx project. Within the EHDEN project, we are collaborating with our project partners to support regulatory and HTA response to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring real-life use of these antimicrobials and understanding current practice through conducting large epidemiological studies such as CHARYBDIS.

    Understanding and preparing for the challenges that face HTA agencies and clinical guideline developers when responding to similar infectious disease pandemics, in order to support pandemic preparedness, is a key objective of our work in this area. With collaborators from the HTx project, we have published an article summarising these challenges and continue to work on developing practical solutions and guidance to address them.

  6. Environmental sustainability

    Our guidance affects the way that health and care services are delivered. And the way that services are delivered has an impact on the environment. We're exploring ways to incorporate information on environmental impact in our guidance so as to reduce the carbon footprint of health and care.

    We want to ensure that our environmental sustainability work complements other similar work undertaken across the healthcare landscape.

  7. Innovative access pathways

    These allow patients early access to new and urgently needed treatments. We're currently engaged in the operation and strategic development of the Innovative Licensing and Access Pathway (ILAP) with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) and All Wales Therapeutics and Toxicology Centre (AWTTC).

    We've also played leading roles in adaptive pathways initiatives ADAPT-SMARTMIT NewDIGS, and the European Medicines Agency adaptive pathways pilots.

  8. Views of the public

    Our committees make moral, ethical and social value judgements as well as scientific ones. The views of the public inform these types of judgements and provide the basis of the NICE Principles. We collaborate with external researchers studying how our guidance on social values is interpreted by our committees. NICE Listens is our new programme of public engagement that will help us to make sure that our policies on complex and controversial issues reflect the values of informed members of the public.

  9. Patient preferences

    Studying people's preferences for treatment options is an important priority for us. We completed a project funded by Myeloma UK to understand how patient preference data can be collected and used in decisions about new medicines and treatments. We have also published an article summarising NICE’s perspective on the role of patient preference studies in HTA decision making.

  10. Transforming NICE and implementation of NICE guidance

    NICE Transformation is an ambitious and organisation-wide change programme that has been established to deliver our 5-year strategy 2021-2026. It brings together a complex range of activities that include technical innovation, new approaches to data and content management, enhanced digital enablers, and process improvement. We are currently exploring how artificial intelligence and machine learning could be utilised to identify evidence.

    We have developed guidance on optimising care for people with two or more conditions and interactive guidelines starting with the management of type 2 diabetes in adults. The move to developing “living guidelines” and the challenges associated with it is another methodological research area of interest to our transformation activities.

    We also offer a range of support to help health and social care professionals put guidance into practice. Our research aims to establish which implementation strategies are most effective. We are collaborating with THIS Institute on research to understand and reduce implementation barriers in end of life care, by gathering implementation information on NICE’s end of life care guideline. This is an area where several NICE recommendations have been poorly implemented in the past.

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Contact our research team