Objectives: The aim of this study was to establish a list of priority topics for methods research to support decision making at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Methods: Potential priorities for methods research topics were identified through a focused literature review, interviews, an email survey, a workshop and a Web-based feedback exercise. Participants were members of the NICE secretariat and its advisory bodies, representatives from academia, industry, and other organizations working closely with NICE. The Web exercise was open to anyone to complete but publicized among the above groups.
Results: A list of potential topics was collated. Priorities for further research differed according to the type of respondent and the extent to which they work directly with NICE. Priorities emerging from the group closest to NICE included: methodology for indirect and mixed treatment comparisons; synthesis of qualitative evidence; research relating to the use of quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) in decision making; methods and empirical research for establishing the cost-effectiveness threshold; and determining how data on the uncertainty of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness data should be taken into account in the decision-making process. Priorities emerging from the broadest group of respondents (through the Web exercise) included: methods for extrapolating beyond evidence observed in trials, methods for capturing benefits not included in the QALY and methods to assess when technologies should be recommended in the context of further evidence gathering.
Conclusions: Consideration needs to be given to the needs of those who use the outputs of research for decision making when determining priorities for future methods research.