Evidence synthesis: establishing what works and size of public health need

Research theme leads

  • Daniela De Angelis, Dr (University of Cambridge MRC Biostatistics Unit)
  • André Charlett, Dr (Public Health England)
University library

About this theme

This theme provides systematic review capacity for the HPRU, and uses Multiple Parameter Evidence Synthesis (MPES) to support public health surveillance and evaluation of health care programmes.


Short-term objectives include:

  • scope, undertake, support and provide responsive capacity for systematic reviews on public health priorities;
  • devise robust approaches to estimation of the size of key risk groups within a population, e.g people who inject drugs;
  • develop models and methods that combine incomplete/biased surveillance data with other evidence to obtain robust estimates of trends in disease burden;
  • develop methods to integrate disease transmission models with evidence synthesis models of disease burden;
  • develop, adapt and demonstrate natural experiment methods of public health interventions.

Longer term objectives are to:

  • provide support and leadership on systematic reviews;
  • provide training on systematic review methods for HPRU and PHE staff;
  • develop and pilot methods for rapid mixed method systematic reviews;
  • develop and adapt novel methods for use in natural experiments utilising routine public health data;
  • provide methodological expertise, leadership and training on evidence synthesis – and create a methodological network of experts in quantitative methodologies for evaluation of natural experiments, including academics and PHE staff; 
  • support and lead new external grant and fellowship applications on evidence synthesis methods;
  • support and lead new external grant applications on further evaluation of interventions developed under this theme; 
  • assess how natural experiments and quantitative meta-analyses can better assess impact of interventions on health inequalities;
  • develop new guidance for outbreak reporting to strengthen evidence syntheses and to inform design/implementation of nested trials in context of outbreaks.

Key projects and outputs

Systematic Reviews & network meta-analysis: we will provide support for the generation of preliminary evidence for interventions identified by other work themes and HPRUs.

Multi Parameter Evidence Synthesis: We will use and develop methods that exploit multiple information streams to create new evidence for PHE.

Natural experiments: We will provide expertise on methods that use observational data to evaluate  interventions, appropriately accounting for relevant sampling and other biases.

Research examples

Prevalence and burden of hepatitis B co-infection among people living with HIV: a global systematic review and meta-analysis.

Cannabis use and the risk of tuberculosis: a systematic review.

Impact of opioid substitution therapy (OST) on HIV testing among people who have recently injected drugs: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Systematic review and network meta-analysis on therapeutic interventions for alcohol dependence in community settings

Needle syringe programmes and opioid substitution therapy for preventing HCV transmission among people who inject drugs: findings from a Cochrane Review and meta-analysis

Control of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae outbreaks in acute settings: An evidence review.

Effectiveness of needle/syringe programmes and opiate substitution therapy in preventing HCV transmission among people who inject drugs

Impact of opioid substitution therapy on antiretroviral therapy outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Risk of nosocomial respiratory syncytial virus infection and effectiveness of control measures to prevent transmission events: a systematic review

Effectiveness of needle/syringe programmes and opiate substitution therapy in preventing HCV transmission among people who inject drugs (Protocol)

Research team