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The overall aim of the NHS R&D Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme is to ensure that high-quality research information on the costs, effectiveness and broader impact of health technologies is produced in the most efficient way for those who use, manage and work in the NHS. Research is undertaken in those areas where the evidence will lead to the greatest benefits to patients, either through improved patient outcomes or the most efficient use of NHS resources.
The Standing Group on Health Technology advises on national priorities for health technology assessment. Six advisory panels assist the Standing Group in identifying and prioritising projects. These priorities are then considered by the HTA Commissioning Board supported by the National Coordinating Centre for HTA (NCCHTA).
This report is one of a series covering acute care, diagnostics and imaging, methodology, pharmaceuticals, population screening, and primary and community care. It was identified as a priority by the Primary and Community Care Panel and funded as project number 94/36/04.
The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Standing Group, the Commissioning Board, the Panel members or the Department of Health. The editors wish to emphasise that funding and publication of this research by the NHS should not be taken as implicit support for the recommendations for policy contained herein. In particular, policy options in the area of screening will be considered by the National Screening Committee. This Committee, chaired by the Chief Medical Officer, will take into account the views expressed here, further available evidence and other relevant considerations.
Reviews in Health Technology Assessment are termed ‘systematic’ when the account of the search, appraisal and synthesis methods (to minimise biases and random errors) would, in theory, permit the replication of the review by others.
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