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Cochrane Review Review

Cochrane Review: What Is It and Why It Matters

What is the Cochrane Review?

Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. They also assess the accuracy of a diagnostic test for a given condition in a specific patient group and setting.

Each systematic review addresses a clearly formulated question; for example: Can antibiotics help in alleviating the symptoms of a sore throat? All the existing primary research on a topic that meets certain criteria is searched for and collated, and then assessed using stringent guidelines, to establish whether or not there is conclusive evidence about a specific treatment.

The reviews are updated regularly, ensuring that treatment decisions can be based on the most up-to-date and reliable evidence. As well as covering hundreds of medical conditions and diverse healthcare topics such as injury prevention and natural treatments, Cochrane Reviews have an international appeal through their global coverage of healthcare issues affecting people in all countries and contexts, including resource-poor settings, where it is vital to ensure that funds are used to maximum benefit.

Why It Matters? Cochrane Reviews enable the practice of evidence-based health care. Health care decisions can be made based on the best available research, which is systematically assessed and summarised in a Cochrane Review. Narrative reviews of healthcare research have existed for many decades, but are often not systematic. They may have been written by a recognised expert, but no one individual has the time to try to identify and bring together all relevant studies.

Of more concern, an individual or company might actively seek to discuss and combine only the research which supports their opinions, prejudices or commercial interests. In contrast, a Cochrane Review circumvents this by using a predefined, rigorous and explicit methodology.


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