National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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Mind the gap: better evidence, better prevention

Blog posted by: Gerard Stansby, Professor of Vascular Surgery, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals, 19 April 2018.

Professor Stansby, expert advisor on the VTE guideline, highlights a call for research launched by NICE and NIHR, into the risk assessment tools

When you’re unwell the last thing you want to do is get up and move around, but sometimes staying still can cause more problems.

Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) is a condition where a blood clot forms in a vein, usually in the leg, groin or arm. If the clot travels in the blood and reaches the lung it can cause a pulmonary embolism and prove fatal. Sometimes being admitted to hospital can mean a lot of time spent in bed. Hospital acquired VTE causes thousands of deaths every year despite being a potentially preventable condition.

NICE has published guidance to help healthcare professionals identify who is most likely to develop VTE, so that they can then work to reduce their risk. However, we do not have all the information we need. This is why we’re working with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to promote further research into VTE.

Evidence is an essential ingredient of NICE guidance. The committee relies on robust studies and trustworthy data to ensure their recommendations are relevant and reliable. Unfortunately, a frequent frustration for guideline committees is a lack of key studies in important areas. This is something we faced when producing the NICE guidance for preventing VTE.

Upon reviewing the evidence for the VTE prevention guideline, it was disappointing to see that several areas of key research had stalled since 2010. We wanted to advise healthcare professionals on available risk assessment tools and be able to recommend the one they should use, but there was simply no information available.

Large scale clinical studies require significant funding.  For some topics, such as new drugs, this financial support can come from the pharmaceutical industry or charitable sources, but for key NHS research, support from the NIHR is usually required.

We flagged the lack of risk assessment tools to the NIHR. They agreed it should be a priority area and so have now issued a call for research.

This is excellent example of NICE and the NIHR working together. If you'd like to know more about this call for research and to submit an application, please visit NIHR funding opportunities. The deadline for applications is 30 May 2018.


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