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Population Health Screening Benefits and Harms: Evidence Synthesis methods to support policy-making

Professor Sian Taylor-Phillips is one of six research leaders to receive a prestigious NIHR Research Professorship in 2023. The NIHR Research Professorships scheme funds researchers to promote the effective translation of research. It also aims to strengthen research leadership at the highest academic levels.

Health screening programmes are offered to millions of people worldwide. These range from cancer screening for adults to rare disease screening for newborn babies. Governments use research for understanding the benefits and harms of screening: how many lives it saves and the people getting incorrect test results or unnecessary treatments. High quality research is essential for enabling governments to decide which screening programmes to offer.

This programme of work is about how to accurately bring together different sources of research evidence to support policy decisions. We will find better ways of:

  • safely linking smaller different research studies together without introducing bias,
  • making use of data from using routine patient records as well as published research,
  • and working together across several countries to find ways of summarising research evidence so that it can be used more widely and move towards standard approaches.

This combination of work will widen the availability of good quality research evidence and reduce both the time and costs of obtaining it. ItThis will improve enable governments access to better evidence for understanding the benefits and harms of screening for different groups of people (for example different ethnic or socioeconomic groups). It will help them to make efficient, better and more equitable decisions about which screening programmes to run.