The Cochrane Collaboration: An Oustanding Resource for Medical Decision Making

The Cochrane Collaboration is an outstanding resource for  medical decision making that both patients and physicians can access at : http://www.cochrane.org/.

The organization publishes the Cochrane Library which consists of a number of databases to help patients and physicians make evidence based medical decisions.

You can access the Cochrane Library at: http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/view/0/index.html.

The first of the databases is the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews (Cochrane reviews). Each review deals with a medical intervention for a health problem. The evidence or absence of evidence that the intervention works is summarized based on examination of randomized trials. You can learn more about Cochrane Systemic Reviews at: http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/view/0/AboutCochraneSystematicReviews.htdatabase

Another dabatase is the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE). It is available at:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/o/cochrane/cochrane_cldare_articles_fs.html.

The above is actually just an alphabetical list of the reviews available. To view the abstracts you need paid access. However, looking through the alphabetical list will give an idea of the tremendous number of topics covered. The database is actually produced by the British National Health Service and Cochrane is just using a copy.

You can, however, access the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) directly and and no charge on the British site at :http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/crdweb/AboutDare.asp

According to Cochrane “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.”

Other Cochrane Databases that are available are the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (clinical trials), the Cochrane Methodology Register (method studies), the Health Technology Assessment Database (technology assessments), and the NHS Economic Evaluation Database. These databases are discussed at: http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/view/0/AboutTheCochraneLibrary.html#DARE.

And finally there are the Cochrane Summaries.The Cochrane Summaries are very useful for patients and are available at: http://summaries.cochrane.org/.  For example, I typed in “knee injury” as the term in the search box.Twenty one summaries were brought up altho several had been withdrawn. One very interesting result that came up was Surgery versus Conservative Treatment Knee Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears (ruptures) in Adults” available at http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD001356/surgery-versus-conservative-treatment-to-repair-knee-anterior-cruciate-ligament-tears-ruptures-in-adults.  When you access that you will get a brief summary and the abstract (the take home message for this summary unfortunately, is No Data).

If you’re interested in making more informed medical decisions, please take a look at some or all of these links.

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