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NICE guidelines for depression

Summary of the types of studies included in NICE guidelines: what's not included and why.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) was established as a Special Health Authority for England and Wales in 1999, with a remit to provide a single source of authoritative and reliable guidance for patients, professionals and the public. NICE guidance aims to improve standards of care, to diminish unacceptable variations in the provision and quality of care across the NHS and to ensure that the health service is patient-centred. All guidance is developed in a transparent and collaborative manner using the best available evidence and involving all relevant stakeholders. (Source: NICE Guidelines for Depression)

NICE guidelines do not incorporate all research conducted in an area of interest. There are very specific criteria that studies must adhere to in order to be included in the guideline. For example, with reference to research looking at the effectiveness of an intervention, only studies using a randomised controlled trial methodology (RCT) are considered. It is therefore important to remember, and NICE state this explicitly, that an absence of empirical evidence for the effectiveness of a particular intervention is not the same as evidence for its ineffectiveness. In addition NICE state:

Guidelines are not a substitute for professional knowledge and clinical judgement. They can be limited in their usefulness and applicability by a number of different factors: the availability of high-quality research evidence, the quality of the methodology used in the development of the guideline, the generalisability of research findings and the uniqueness of individuals with depression. (Source: NICE Guidelines for Depression)


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