Glossary

The NICE glossary provides brief definitions and explanations of terms and jargon used on our site. The terms describe how we work and how our guidance is produced.

Our glossary excludes specific clinical and medical terms although we intend to include these in the longer term. If you cannot find the term you are looking for, please email us so that we can consider adding it to the glossary. New terms are added regularly.

The glossary is not used for indexing the site or for navigation - for information on this, please see the NICE taxonomy.

Some definitions and examples are based on those in the ‘HTAi consumer and patient glossary’, with thanks to Health Technology Assessment International.

 

Benchmark

A measure or standard that can be used to compare an activity, performance, service or result.

'Benchmarking' is the process of measuring the performance of people or organisations with broadly similar characteristics. The aim is to improve quality by encouraging all organisations or services to raise their own performance to that of the best.

Best available evidence

The strongest, best-quality research evidence available on the topic being investigated.

Best value

The 'Best value' scheme is a scheme that aims to improve local government standards. Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide local people with services that are effective and good value for money (cost effective). To achieve this, they are required to consult local people, regularly review services and performance and produce a performance plan that is audited independently. See the Department for Communities and Local Government website: www.communities.gov.uk

Bias

Influences on a study that can make the results look better or worse than they really are. (Bias can even make it look as if a treatment works when it does not.) Bias can occur by chance, deliberately or as a result of systematic errors in the design and execution of a study. It can also occur at different stages in the research process, for example, during the collection, analysis, interpretation, publication or review of research data. For examples see selection bias, performance bias, information bias, confounding factor, and publication bias.

Blinding or masking

A way to prevent researchers, doctors and patients in a clinical trial from knowing which study group each patient is in so they cannot influence the results. The best way to do this is by sorting patients into study groups randomly. The purpose of 'blinding' or 'masking' is to protect against bias.

A single-blinded study is one in which patients do not know which study group they are in (for example whether they are taking the experimental drug or a placebo). A double-blinded study is one in which neither patients nor the researchers/doctors know which study group the patients are in. A triple blind study is one in which neither the patients, clinicians or the people carrying out the statistical analysis know which treatment patients received.

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This page was last updated: 15 April 2011

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Selected, reliable information for health and social care in one place

Accessibility | Cymraeg | Freedom of information | Vision Impaired | Contact Us | Glossary | Data protection | Copyright | Disclaimer | Terms and conditions

Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.