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Systematic Reviews

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Systematic reviews identify, evaluate, combine and summarise the findings of all relevant individual studies, to provide decision makers with the best possible information about the effects of tests, treatments and other interventions used in health and social care.

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

We support the production of systematic reviews through three funding streams:

  • Technology Assessment Review teams are funded by NIHR to provide NICE with independent research to inform their guidance committees
  • The NIHR Cochrane Programme Grant Scheme aims to produce high quality systematic reviews that are of direct benefit to users of the NHS in England. This call runs every three years and is not currently open.
  • The NIHR Incentive Awards are available to Cochrane Review Groups and Campbell Coordinating Groups to facilitate, and possibly accelerate review activity that is already planned or under way.

For those producing reviews, we also offer the following:

  • Specialist advice and expertise through our Complex Reviews Support Unit
  • NIHR Cochrane review gold open-access scheme enabling open access to a review from the date of publication

Cochrane UK provides training and support to Cochrane entities and contributors to the Cochrane Collaboration in the UK, Ireland, and internationally.

Two work-streams focus on “learning & development” and “engagement” with a research programme supporting these activities. Learning and development opportunities are provided for a broad range of key NHS stakeholders including patients and the public; healthcare workers; and policy makers and commissioners, these activities forming an important part of the engagement strategy.

Cochrane UK is a key link between the Collaboration, the Cochrane reviews and the National Health Service, and promotes evidence-based decision-making and systematic reviews in general and Cochrane reviews in particular. For more information see the Cochrane UK's Annual Reports.

Cochrane Review Groups

The NIHR funds the infrastructure costs for the 21 Cochrane Review Groups (CRG) listed below. We manage the contracts of these groups on behalf of the NIHR. A full list of the groups, their contact details and further information can be found on the Cochrane Library. NIHR has also funded a two-year pilot of Network Support Fellows working within the newly-formed Cochrane Networks.

  • Airways
  • Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma
  • Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Diseases
  • Dementia and Cognitive Improvement
  • Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Effective Practice and Organisation of Care
  • Eyes and Vision
  • Cancer
  • Heart
  • Incontinence
  • Injuries
  • Neuromuscular Disease
  • Oral Health
  • Pain, Palliative and Supportive Care
  • Pregnancy and Childbirth
  • Schizophrenia
  • Skin
  • Tobacco Addiction
  • Wounds

Support for complex reviews

The Complex Review Support Unit provides specialist expert advice to those producing reviews, of complex methodology.

The unit is made up of collaboration between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Leicester University and lead by the University of Glasgow, providing advice on methodological fields such as Diagnostic Test Accuracy, Network Meta-Analysis, Individual Patient Data/Clinical Study Report Meta-Analysis, Causal Pathway Analysis, Economic Evaluations, Non-randomised studies, Prognostic reviews, Prevalence reviews, Realist synthesis, Qualitative Analysis and Use of routine data.

To access this support, please complete and submit a proforma application. The proposed review must already have secured funding. Applications will be reviewed on an ad-hoc basis, but no less than every six  months and will be measured against the following criteria:

  • Degree of complexity suitable for CRSU support
  • Clinical importance to the NHS
  • Ability and capacity of the applicants to complete the work

To assess the applications the Systematic Reviews Programme receives, a number of people are involved. This is to ensure that the application selection is carried out in a way that embraces the latest expertise, knowledge and opinion. Selection is done through three funding panels: the Cochrane NHS-Engagement Awards Funding Panel; the Programme Grants Funding Panel; and the Cochrane Incentive Awards Funding Panel.

Find out more about becoming a reviewer or a Committee member.

Our Director

Professor Ken Stein

Systematic Reviews Programme Advisory Group (SRPAG)

The SRPAG meets a maximum of twice a year for the purpose of advising the Programme Director on policy associated with the provision of support for the completion of systematic reviews, evidence synthesis and the future development for the NIHR-funded entities. Current funded entities include: Cochrane UK, the Cochrane Review Groups. The SRPAG also seeks to ensure all programmes of work are of scientific quality, relevant to the National Health Service and show value for money through the management of annual reporting and monitoring. View list of members.


Members of Systematic Reviews Programme Advisory Group and Funding Committees are required to declare any interests which conflict, or may be considered to conflict, with SRP business, or may be perceived as influencing decisions made in the course of their work within SRP. All members are asked to complete the Register of Interest form, which is intended to capture long term predictable interests that could be perceived to lead to conflicts of interest. These and other interests are judged on a case by case basis at individual meetings.

View the list of SRP reviewers

For help with applying for SR funding

Telephone: 023 8059 4241

For help during your SR funding

Telephone: 023 8059 4241

The Systematic Reviews Programme manages the contracts for the nine NIHR Technology Assessment Reviews (TAR) research teams. The teams respond to the urgent needs of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and other policy makers. We work with NICE and the teams to manage the allocation of the topics on their call off contract. Find out more about our work with NICE.

NICE’s role is to improve the outcomes for people using the NHS and other public health and social care services. One of the ways it does this is by producing evidence-based guidance. NICE guidance contains systematically-developed recommendations based on the best evidence.

The TAR research teams provide NICE with the independent research it needs to inform their guidance committees through a variety of different types of specialised report suited to the decision making process.

Working with other policy makers

TAR reviews can also be commissioned to provide evidence for other policy customers. The TAR teams can respond quickly to requests, providing an important resource for policy makers, such as the National Screening Committee, Chief Medical Officer and NHS England.  TAR reports are independent, reliable and rigorous evidence assessments; they usually comprise a systematic review, cost-effectiveness and economic modelling.

The nine TAR teams are:

The team can be contacted at


Latest funding opportunities for Systematic Reviews

Cochrane review gold open access scheme

Cochrane Review Authors can apply to have their reviews published under Gold open access, meaning that they are instantly and freely open for all users to access on the Cochrane Library from the date of publication.

Latest news about Systematic Reviews

News: Top 10 priorities for oral and dental health research published

Read more

News: Spotlight on social care and social work research

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News: Review finds more effective drugs to stop bleeding after childbirth

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Latest documents for Systematic Reviews

Guidance for completing a review task (public contributors)

Guidance for public contributors commenting on NIHR funding proposals to the Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR), Health Technology Assessment (HTA), Public Health Research (PHR) and Systematic Reviews (SR) Programmes.

SR Programme Advisory Group members

List of members of the Systematic Reviews Programme Advisory Group.

SR Programme reviewers list

List of reviewers for the Systematic Reviews Programme.

Guidance for completing a review task (professional contributors)

A guidance document for external peer reviewers commenting from a professional persepctive on funding proposals

Systematic Reviews (SR) Programme Cochrane Gold Open Access

Systematic Reviews (SR) Programme Cochrane Gold Open Access