Health Technology Assessment

The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme funds research about the clinical and cost effectiveness and broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests for those who plan, provide or receive care from NHS and social care services.  HTA research is undertaken where some evidence already exists to show that a technology can be effective and this needs to be compared to the current standard intervention to see which works best.

Research can evaluate any intervention used in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease, provided the study outcomes lead to findings that have the potential to be of direct benefit to NHS patients.

The researcher-led workstream offers researchers the opportunity to submit proposals on topics or research questions within the programme’s remit. 

The commissioned workstream invites applications in response to calls for research on specific questions which have been identified and prioritised for their importance to the NHS and patients. Proposals may include primary research, evidence synthesis, or feasibility and pilot studies. Please see our current and future funding opportunities

All of our funded projects are eligible for publication in the NIHR Journals Library. This open access resource is freely available online, and provides a full and permanent record of NIHR-funded research.


The NIHR HTA Programme supports research that is immediately useful to patients, clinical practice, and policy or decision makers. 

HTA research is undertaken when evidence exists to show that a technology can be effective. The purpose of an HTA study is to establish the clinical and cost-effectiveness for the NHS in comparison with the current best alternative(s).  A study may also investigate uncertainty around a technology’s place in the existing care pathway. 

“Technologies” in this context mean any method used to promote health; prevent and treat disease; and improve rehabilitation or long-term care. They are not confined to new drugs and include any intervention used in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease.

Examples include:

  • procedures
  • drugs
  • devices
  • diagnostic tests
  • settings of care
  • screening programmes

The technology doesn't necessarily need to exist in current NHS practice, but a study would need to show that it could. 

Health Technology Assessment asks important questions about these technologies such as:

  • when is counselling better than drug treatment for depression?
  • what is the best operation for aortic aneurysms?
  • should we screen for human papilloma virus when doing cervical smears?
  • should aspirin be used for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease?

It answers these questions by investigating four main factors:

  • whether the technology works
  • for whom
  • at what cost
  • how it compares with the alternatives

The HTA Programme will support

  • systematic reviews
  • economic models
  • meta-analyses
  • mixed-treatment comparisons
  • expected Value of Information studies
  • randomised controlled trials (unblinded, single-blinded, doubleblinded,triple-blinded)
  • non-randomised trials
  • single-centre studies where a strong case has been made for this type of design and there is assurance the results will be generalizable to the wider NHS
  • stand-alone pilot and feasibility studies (where there is evidence they will lead to a full trial)
  • cohort studies (retrospective or prospective)
  • adaptive designs
  • modelling studies
  • international studies

The HTA Programme will not support

  • phase 2 trials (our EME Programme may be more suitable)
  • research on new equipment
  • PhD research
  • proposals currently pending with another research funder

Study example

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a rare disease mainly affecting boys. DMD causes muscle cells to gradually break down so that with time, a patient’s muscles become weak to the point where they are unable to conduct many of the activities they used to. The following video showcases a feasibility study looking at the effectiveness of hydrotherapy in maintaining physical function in children living with this condition.

Contact us


We offer a wide variety of assistance during all stages of the research process. If in doubt, please get in touch.


The NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, Health and Care Research Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.