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Frequently Asked Questions - NHS Evidence - Search Engine for Evidence in Health and Social Care

Frequently Asked Questions

On this page, you'll find answers to our most frequently asked questions. If the answer isn’t here, please contact us.


NHS Evidence Search

My Evidence

Commissioned Content

Journals and Databases

NHS Athens


What is NHS Evidence?

NHS Evidence is a service that enables access to authoritative clinical and non-clinical evidence and best practice through a web-based portal. It is managed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Who is NHS Evidence for?

NHS Evidence is for everyone in health and social care who makes decisions about treatments, interventions or the use of resources. While NHS Evidence is designed primarily for professionals and practitioners, patients and the wider public are also able to search most of the content on NHS Evidence. Some specialised content is only available to NHS employees due to licensing agreements.

How can I contribute to NHS Evidence?

We welcome all feedback about NHS Evidence – please contact us with any suggestions on how the site could be improved, or sources of information which should be included. We are also always looking for people to be involved in our user research programme – again, contact us if you are interested.

How do I subscribe to the NHS Evidence bulletin Eyes on Evidence?

You can subscribe to Eyes on Evidence on our Eyes on Evidence sign-up page.

What has happened to the specialist collections?

NHS Evidence has launched a new specialist evidence service to replace the specialist collections. The new service is easy to search and provides access to a wider choice of quality specialist evidence content. To access this new content, as well as the evidence that was previously available within the individual specialist collections, you simply need to use the search box on NHS Evidence - type in your search terms and relevant results will be displayed.

In addition to searching for evidence, you can browse new clinical and public health topic pages. These topic pages bring together, for each topic, the latest guidelines, high quality patient information, ongoing trials and other selected information including access to NICE pathways. These pages have been developed for a subset of topics - more topic pages will be added over time.

NHS Evidence will continue to identify significant new evidence and will disseminate this quality assured, significant, new evidence via its monthly Eyes on Evidence bulletin. The bulletin will provide a link to new, significant evidence for that month. Later in the year a personalised update function will be introduced which will allow you to specify exactly what you wish to be notified about.

What is an Evidence Update?

NHS Evidence produces Evidence Updates to provide a straightforward and succinct overview of significant new research and evidence published since the literature search was last conducted for the accredited guidance it updates. Evidence Updates are published regularly, often annually.

What is the NHS Evidence Accreditation Scheme?

You can find out about about the Accreditaton Scheme on the Accreditation pages on this site.

Can you search for information for me?

No. If you need help searching, please see our help pages. If you are a member of the NHS, your local health library will also be able to assist you.

Can you provide health advice?

No. If you need health advice, you should contact your own GP, phone NHS Direct on 0845 4647, or visit NHS Direct online.

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NHS Evidence Search

What sites do you search?

The sites searched by NHS Evidence are on our sources list. Further information on how sources are chosen is available on our NHS Evidence Content page.

How is information made available on NHS Evidence?

Information is made available either through a direct feed of data from the content provider to NHS Evidence, or by trawling relevant content on the source website.

Who decides which sources of information are included?

The NHS Evidence Sources team assesses all identified or suggested sources of information and their recommendations are considered by the NHS Evidence Publication Executive.

Does NHS Evidence pay an organisation for information included on its site?

NHS Evidence does not pay an organisation for their information, and will not cover a content provider's cost in ensuring their content is in an appropriate format for inclusion. We may, however, complete a formal procurement process to access some resources which are only available via subscription, licensing or purchase.

How do I use NHS Evidence search?

Advice on searching NHS Evidence is available on our Help page.

Why is new content not appearing in my search results?

New content must be ‘ingested’ into the search engine. Currently, this process takes place on a weekly basis so it may take a few days before a new guideline or annual evidence update appears in the search results.

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My Evidence

How do I create a My Evidence account?

You can create a My Evidence account by clicking either of the links My Evidence or Sign in at the top of the NHS Evidence web site. This will take you to a page where you can sign in, or you can create an account by clicking the link Create account. This will take you to a form where you'll need to fill in details such as your name, email address and a password. Alternatively, you can sign in or create an account using your Google account, by clicking on the button labelled Sign in with Google.

I am trying to register - why won’t you accept my password?

Make sure your password is a minimum of 6 characters long, contains at least one letter and at least one character that is not a letter.

How do I save searches or results, or add alerts?

Advice on saving searches and results, and adding alerts is available on our Help page.

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Commissioned Content

What content do you commission?

NHS Evidence commissions the British National Formulary and the British National Formulary for Children for worldwide use, and the Cochrane Library for UK use.

What is the British National Formulary and British National Formulary for Children?

The British National Formulary (BNF) is published every six months by BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and RPS Publishing jointly (in March and September). The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) purchases a quantity which it distributes to NHS doctors, pharmacists and non-medical prescribers (both independent and supplementary prescribers) in England.

The BNF for Children (BNFC) is published annually in July (in conjunction with Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Publications Ltd) and is also purchased by NICE. It is distributed largely on the same basis as the BNF.

How do I order British National Formularies and British National Formularies for Children?

Information on how to obtain extra copies, or update distribution details for future editions is contained in the document Central purchase of the British National Formularies by NHS Evidence.

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Journals and Databases

What's on the Journals and Databases page?

The Journals and Databases page provides links to resources which have been purchased by the NHS in England at national, regional, or local levels. It includes healthcare databases, online journals and e-books, which can be accessed with an NHS Athens account. If you don’t login, you will be able to access a free database called Pubmed and a number of free journals.

What content is purchased nationally?

National content is purchased by the strategic health authorities on behalf of the NHS in England, and includes:

  • Six bibliographic databases (Medline, Embase, PsycInfo, HMIC, AMED and BNI)
  • Two bibliographic databases with full text (Cinahl and Health Business Elite)
  • A range of books from MyiLibrary
  • Full text e-journals from the BMJ collection and the AMA Archives
  • Zetoc, the table of contents alerting service

What content is purchased locally?

To find out what content has been purchased locally or regionally, please contact your local health library.

What journals am I entitled to access?

To see which journals you're entitled to access, login to your Athens account and go to Journals.

Why can't I access one of the journals?

If the journal is part of either the national or free collection, please contact us. If not, please contact your local health library.

I’ve found an article in the healthcare databases – why can’t I access the full text?

Because most of the databases provide bibliographic details about the article rather than the article itself, you won't necessarily be able to access full text through our site. We do provide links where content is freely available, or where we have purchased a subscription to the journal in question, but if neither of these apply, you'll need to contact your local health library to find out how to access what you need.

NHS Athens

What is Athens?

Athens is an access management system, provided by Eduserv, which enables eligible users to access licensed resources.

Am I eligible for an NHS Athens account?

Eligibility for NHS Athens is governed by supplier licenses. You are eligible if you work for the NHS in England. If not, please refer to our eligibility criteria to check whether you are eligible. For further advice, you can contact your regional Athens administrator or contact us.

How do I register for an NHS Athens account?

You can register for an NHS Athens account using our online registration form.

What's my password?

If you've forgotten your password, you can reset it yourself on our Reset Password page.

What's my username?

If you've forgotten your username, contact your local Athens administrator.

Can you send me a new activation code?

If you need a new activation code, contact your local Athens administrator

How do I change my account details?

Go to My Account to change your email address, organisation or password.

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