Systematic reviews explained

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. They are published online in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in the Cochrane Library.

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 as new evidence becomes available, ensuring that treatment decisions can be based on the most up-to-date and reliable evidence.

Cochrane Reviews are widely used to inform healthcare guidelines, best practice guidance in primary care and patient decision aids in shared decision making initiatives.