National Institute of Health 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 types of studies that we fund include:

  • 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 NIHR HTA Programme will NOT fund:

  • phase 2 trials
  • research on new equipment
  • PhD research
  • proposals currently pending with another research funder

The following document illustrates the differences between the EME and HTA Programme (pdf, 23.13 KB)Link open in a new window remits. If you are still unsure try using our 'Which programme?' tool.

Apply for funding:

The commissioned workstream welcomes proposals in response to calls for specific research questions which have been identified and prioritised for their importance to the NHS and patients. 

HTA researcher-led workstream invites applications on topics or research questions identified by researchers that are within the Programme's remit. 



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