17 October 2017

Mind the gap: better evidence, fresher air Nick Crabb, programme director of scientific affairs at NICE

Nick tells us why NICE wants to encourage research into the impact of air pollution.

We know air pollution damages our health. We don’t yet have all the information we need to reduce the risks.

That is why we are working with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to promote further research into this area.

We want to know:

  • How physical barriers (including ‘green walls’) affect air quality
  • The most effective way to encourage people to choose low to zero-emission modes of travel
  • Whether clean air zones help to improve our long-term health
  • Whether air quality alerts are an effective way to change someone’s exposure to air pollution
  • How a person’s choice of transport affects the amount of air pollution they are exposed to, and whether this changes the amount of physical activity they participate in

NICE guidelines are based on best available evidence, but sometimes what we need to know is not available, or non-existent. When this happens we issue research recommendations to highlight the need for more information and to encourage researchers to help us fill these knowledge gaps.

We do not have a research budget of our own, but NICE has a duty as a publicly-funded national organisation to encourage good quality, do-able research where it is needed.  

Working side-by-side with NIHR, we can guide funding towards areas of research where we know the information could help to shape future NICE guidance.

Together, we want to ensure public funds are spent wisely and effectively.

We are asking the right questions of the right people. In time, we’ll start to find out the much-needed answers, which will benefit us all.

If you'd like to know more about this call for research and perhaps even submit an application yourself, take a look at the NIHR funding opportunities page.

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