Friday, September 9, 2011

The Cochrane Library: Systematic Reviews and More for Health Care

The Cochrane Library is a collection of six databases containing different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making:
  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews - The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is a leading resource for systematic reviews in health care. A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit methods aimed at minimizing bias, in order to produce more reliable findings that can be used to inform decision making. There are three types of Cochrane Review:

    1. Intervention reviews assess the benefits and harms of interventions used in healthcare and health policy.
    2. Diagnostic test accuracy reviews assess how well a diagnostic test performs in diagnosing and detecting a particular disease.
    3. Methodology reviews address issues relevant to how systematic reviews and clinical trials are conducted and reported.

    The CDSR includes all Cochrane Reviews (and protocols) prepared by Cochrane Review Groups in The Cochrane Collaboration. Each Cochrane Review - focusing on a specific topic area - is a peer-reviewed systematic review that has been prepared and supervised by an expert editorial team.
  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials - Provides details of published articles taken from bibliographic databases (notably MEDLINE and EMBASE), and other published and unpublished sources.
  • Cochrane Methodology Register - A bibliography of publications that report on methods used in the conduct of controlled trials. It includes journal articles, books, and conference proceedings, and the content is sourced from MEDLINE and hand searches. CMR contains studies of methods used in reviews and more general methodological studies that could be relevant to anyone preparing systematic reviews.
  • Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects - Contains abstracts of systematic reviews that have been quality-assessed. Each abstract includes a summary of the review together with a critical commentary about the overall quality. DARE is a key resource for busy decision-makers and can be used for answering questions about the effects of specific interventions, whether such questions arise from practice or when making policy. DARE covers a broad range of health related interventions and thousands of abstracts of reviews in fields as diverse as diagnostic tests, public health, health promotion, pharmacology, surgery, psychology, and the organization and delivery of health care.
  • Health Technology Assessment Database - Brings together details of completed and ongoing health technology assessments (studies of the medical, social, ethical, and economic implications of healthcare interventions) from around the world. The aim of the HTA Database is to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care.
  • NHS Economic Evaluation Database - This database systematically identifies economic evaluations of competing healthcare interventions from around the world, appraising their quality, and highlighting their relative strengths and weaknesses.
A 12-page User Guide and a three-part online tutorial [Part 1: Introduction (8 minutes); Part 2: Searching and MESH (7 minutes); Part 3: Saved Searches and Email Alerts (4 minutes)] are available to provide students and faculty with an orientation to the Cochrane Library. If you have questions about the database, please contact Richard Kearney (x2165 / kearneyr at wpunj dot edu).

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