NICE process and methods

6 The role of evidence providers

Unless a decision is made by Centre for Public Health Excellence (CPHE) senior team to produce evidence reviews in-house, NICE commissions independent evidence review teams and health economists to review evidence and undertake economic analyses to inform the Public Health Advisory Committee (PHAC) in developing guidance.

The evidence providers:

  • agree milestones with the project team for what is to be delivered and by what date, based on the contents of the scope

  • prepare review protocols for sign off by the CPHE project team (see chapter 7)

  • may prepare search protocols and strategies for sign-off by the CPHE project team, if these are not being undertaken by NICE

  • may undertake searches for the evidence in relevant databases and websites, if this is not being undertaken by NICE

  • appraise and synthesise the evidence

  • prepare reviews of the evidence

  • prepare an economic modelling protocol for sign off by the CPHE project team

  • prepare an economic analysis, including economic modelling, and writes a report

  • amend evidence reviews and the economic analysis report in response to PHAC comments, as required

  • assess evidence submissions from stakeholders, if a call for evidence is made

  • help the CPHE project team to respond to stakeholder comments on the evidence.

Members of the evidence provider team attend meetings of the PHAC to present the main issues arising from each evidence review and economic analysis report. They also answer questions from the PHAC members and contribute to discussions if asked. They follow NICE's code of conduct, and make a declaration of interests at the start of each guidance project and at PHAC meetings.

NICE owns the intellectual property of the guidance and the evidence provider owns the intellectual property of the evidence reviews.

6.1 Reviewing the evidence

Depending on the length of the guidance process followed and the nature of the referral, between 1 and 4 evidence reviews, and 1 economic modelling report are usually undertaken.

All evidence reviews and economic analyses are developed and delivered in accordance with chapters 4, 5 and 6 of Methods for the development of NICE public health guidance – third edition (2012).

The evidence reviews and economic analysis focus principally on the key questions posed in the scope. Studies are reviewed to identify the most appropriate data to address these questions, so that the recommendations are based on the best available evidence. The systematic review process should be explicit and transparent. It involves 5 main steps:

  • identifying and selecting relevant evidence

  • assessing its quality

  • assessing its applicability

  • interpreting, synthesising and presenting the results

  • developing evidence statements.

The process is common to all evidence reviews, and is applied to all studies and to evidence supplied by stakeholders.

6.2 Summarising and presenting evidence reviews

For each evidence review, all data is extracted and presented in a narrative summary with an accompanying evidence table. The evidence table provides a basis for comparison among studies. It also provides sufficient information for any subsequent recommendation to include an entry in the Evidence Intervention Library – a feature of the NICE Pathway that summarises key study details supporting public health recommendations, including cost, impact and effectiveness.

The key features of the evidence are summarised in a short evidence statement. For details about how evidence reviews and evidence statements are developed, see chapter 5of Methods for the development of public health guidance – third edition (2012).