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Evidence Synthesis Programme (NIHR)

The Evidence Synthesis Programme funds research projects that identify, evaluate and combine data from existing research studies to provide best evidence, including on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of treatments, tests and other interventions, to support decision-making across health, public health and social care in all four nations of the UK.

The Programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from HSC R&D Division, the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) in Scotland, and Health and Care Research Wales.

Evidence syntheses combine data from multiple sources, most commonly from existing research studies, to provide an overall summary of current knowledge. They should be based on systematic processes to identify and collate relevant evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria and to minimise the influence of bias. Combining individual study results and considering differences can reduce uncertainty and help make sense of conflicting study findings. Whatever kind of evidence synthesis is conducted, appropriate, rigorous and transparent methods must be used so that the conclusions can be trusted.

  • Systematic reviews - aim to identify and formally evaluate all the studies addressing a clearly defined research question using methods that are set out in advance
  • Rapid reviews - when an answer is needed quickly, researchers can use streamlined methods to produce a rapid review
  • Scoping reviews or production of an evidence map – these can be carried out if we want to know what studies exist without looking in detail at their findings
  • Statistical analysis  - evidence syntheses may include a statistical analysis that combines individual study results. This is called a meta-analysis or a network meta-analysis when three or more comparisons are being made within a single analysis
  • Decision analytic modeling - is a means of estimating the costs, outcomes and cost-effectiveness of different interventions and programmes

Evidence Synthesis Groups (ESGs)

Nine Evidence Synthesis Groups (ESGs) have been funded to undertake a range of evidence syntheses reviews for the Evidence Synthesis Programme. The aim of the ESGs is to address knowledge gaps or to answer a specific need for the Programme’s healthcare, public health and social care stakeholders/audiences. These will be areas of importance to policy makers and will have a direct impact on decision-making, patient and client care, reducing inequalities and identifying future research needs.

To submit a topic (to HSC R&D) click: topic for prioritisation for Evidence Synthesis


You can also submit ideas/topics directly to NIHR:

Researchers/Clinicians: Suggest a research topic | NIHR

Patients, Carers, Public: Suggest a research topic | NIHR


What is Evidence Synthesis? - Click here for youtube clip: Evidence Synthesis - What is it and why do we need it? (