Systematic Reviews

We are a global leader in producing and promoting systematic reviews - high-quality research evidence which supports decision-making in health and social care.

The findings of individual research studies are rarely enough to justify new treatments. Systematic reviews identify, evaluate, combine and summarise the findings of all relevant individual studies and provide decision-makers with the best possible information about the effects of tests, treatments and other interventions used in health and social care. We fund three systematic review programmes.

Cochrane, CochraneUK and Centre and Cochrane Review Groups

Cochrane is a global network which brings together contributors from 120 countries to produce credible, accessible health information in the form of systematic reviews. Cochrane summarizes the best available research evidence enabling patients and professionals to make informed healthcare decisions.

Cochrane UK is one of 41 regional centres and branches supporting the global work of Cochrane and maximizing the use and impact of Cochrane Reviews for the UK and Ireland (click here to visit the Cochrane Ireland website).  Cochrane UK is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and hosted by the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  The centre supports the production of Cochrane Systematic Reviews through a Learning and Development Programme for Cochrane authors and other contributors.  They aim to maximize the impact of Cochrane Reviews by disseminating the findings widely to health professionals, researchers, commissioners, the public, charities and the media, through social media, events, presentations and partnerships through their Engagement Programme.  

Out of a total of 52 Cochrane review groups 26 are based in the UK.


PROSPERO is an open access international prospective register of systematic reviews in health and social care, maintained by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York . The database allows those commissioning or planning reviews to identify whether there are already reviews underway addressing a particular topic. This helps to avoid duplication and inefficient use of funds. Registration also provides a means of helping to assess the risk of bias in completed reviews.

Technology Assessment Reviews

Technology Assessment Reviews (TARs) provide vital support for organisations involved in developing health policy in the NHS. The reviews independently assess the existing evidence base on the benefits, harms and costs of particular healthcare treatments and tests for those who plan, provide or receive care in the NHS. TARs inform the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Appraisal Committee guidance on the use of new and existing medicines, treatments and procedures within the NHS in England and Wales. Each TAR is tailored to meet the individual policy customer’s needs in terms of independent evidence review, individual patient meta-data analysis, cost-effectiveness and economic modelling.

NIHR Dissemination Centre

The NIHR Dissemination Centre aims to address the evidence needs of practitioners and decision-makers in healthcare, public health and social care, by sifting, summarising and contextualising the latest research so it is quick and easy to access and understand. The NIHR DC produces a range of publications which synthesise and summarise new research.

Each week new NIHR Signals - accessible, timely summaries of recent health research - are published on the Discover Portal.