The Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library is an online resource containing a regularly updated collection of evidence-based databases, including over 6,000 Cochrane reviews. These reviews explore the evidence for and against the effectiveness and appropriateness of different treatments in specific circumstances. Each review features a Plain Language Summary, with the aim of making the information accessible to everyone. The Cochrane Library also includes editorials and special collections focusing on high profile health areas. 

Australians have long been the highest per capita users of the Cochrane Library globally. Since 2002 all Australians have had free access to the Cochrane Library as a result of the Australian Government funding a national subscription. In August 2012, the NHMRC renewed Australia's national licence for a further five years and issued a media release highlighting the benefits of free access to the Library. 

Australians are frequent users of the Cochrane Library, downloading over 745,000 full text articles in 2014, an increase of 30 per cent since 2011. Users search for and download Cochrane reviews on a wide range of topics. The annual best-of list of top Cochrane reviews and podcasts downloaded by Australians in 2015 offers an interesting snapshot of diverse topics and research areas.  In amongst reviews on public health priority areas like obesity and common conditions like arthritis, you’ll find reviews on all kinds of non-pharmacological approaches to various ailments and issues. Pilates for low back pain, music for mechanically ventilated patients and dance therapy for depression made Australian top fives, but were absent from the Cochrane global list of top downloads. On the flipside, the power of tea, water fluoridation and preventing occupational stress in healthcare workers were among international favourites that didn’t make an appearance in our national charts.

> Top 5 most downloaded new reviews in 2015

1. Exercise for treating patellofemoral pain syndrome

2. Chondroitin for osteoarthritis

3. Personalised care planning for adults with chronic or long-term health conditions

4. Pilates for low back pain

5. Portion, package and tableware size for changing consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco

> Top 5 most downloaded updated reviews in 2015

1. Exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee

2. Pulmonary rehabilitation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

3. Honey as a topical treatment for wounds

4. Topical NSAIDs for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults

5. Active versus expectant management for women in the third stage of labour

> Top 5 most popular podcasts n 2015

1. CRASH 2 (clinical trials that looked at the effects of blood-clot promoting drugs on patients who were bleeding)

2. Music interventions for mechanically ventilated patients

3. Calcium supplementation (other than for preventing or treating hypertension) for improving pregnancy and infant outcomes

4. Dance movement therapy for depression

5. Workplace interventions for reducing sitting at work

You can find more information about the Library and its many uses on the Cochrane Library website.