Friday, 16 January 2015

Cochrane Library systematic reviews in health care: free access

All residents of the Republic of Ireland can access The Cochrane Library for free, funded by the Health Research Board in Dublin. This  provides open access to the full text of 4000 Cochrane health care  systematic reviews .

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international non-profit and independent organisztion dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare readily available worldwide. It produces systematic reviews of the effects of healthcare interventions and makes these available in the Cochrane Library.

What is a Systematic Review?

Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews, which provide an overview of the effects of interventions in health care and, where possible, an estimate of the size of any benefits or harms of these interventions. Each review covers a specific and well-defined area of health care and evidence from clinical trials is included or excluded on the basis of explicit quality criteria. 

Systematic reviews differ from other types of review in that they adhere to a strict design in order to make them more comprehensive, to minimize bias, and to ensure their reliability. Rather than reflecting the views of the authors or being based on a partial selection of the literature (as is the case with many articles and reviews that are not explicitly systematic), they contain all known references to trials on a particular topic and a comprehensive summary of the available evidence. The reviews are valuable sources of information for those receiving care, as well as for decision makers and researchers.