23RD WONCA Europe Conference
Clinical Editor, Cochrane Library, Cochrane Editorial Unit, Cochrane Central Executive
How Cochrane can help to achieve quality, efficiency and equity in family medicine
Cochrane is an independent, global network of health practitioners, researchers, patient-advocates, and others devoted to making the vast amount of evidence from research useful for informing decisions about health. While Cochrane’s main output is the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, a collection of systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials of healthcare interventions and diagnostic tests, the organization is working on new ways to synthesize evidence to facilitate knowledge translation. One example of this approach, which is designed to help doctors at the point of care, is Cochrane Clinical Answers. The primary goal of Cochrane’s Strategy to 2020 is the production of high-quality, relevant, up-to-date systematic reviews and other synthesized research evidence to inform health decision making. Quality is one of the principles that underpins Cochrane’s work and is a crucial element of its reputation worldwide. This is as relevant today as it has always been. Cochrane needs to ensure that all its published evidence meets critical quality criteria, and it has put processes and systems in place to ensure that all the teams and authors have the support they require to produce reviews and other syntheses of research to a high quality. Evidence plays an essential role in achieving a more equitable health service and reducing health inequities. Ensuring that health professionals have the most reliable evidence from health research to hand is one of the main ways to improve quality and efficiency in healthcare decision making. Access to unbiased information is crucial to inform clinical decisions and efficient use of resources – this is particularly important in low-resource settings. Cochrane has taken several initiatives to tackle this issue: firstly, it provides one-click free access to people in low- and middle-income countries, and, secondly, it has introduced measures that incorporate open access to its reviews. Cochrane is now conducting systematic reviews with a focus on health equity, with the aim of translating the findings to different audiences. The objective is to provide synthesized evidence that identifies effects in disadvantaged groups and, therefore, would help to inform the development of policies aimed to meet priority health objectives. Access to unbiased and reliable information is also a powerful tool to prevent overdiagnosis and overtreatment, by addressing the importance of people having a realistic assessment of the benefits and harms of interventions, and avoiding resources being used on those who are least likely to benefit. Without doubt, having the most up-to-date evidence from research to hand contributes to efficiency in health care.
Dr Sera Tort is a Clinical Editor working at the Cochrane Editorial Unit in London with a derivative product from Cochrane Reviews, Cochrane Clinical Answers. She has been involved with Cochrane since 2002, when she ed working on clinical practice guidelines and systematic reviews and co-ordinating the Lung Cancer Group. Sera qualified as a doctor in 1989 and after gaining experience for some years, including a year in Mozambique as a district doctor, did her vocational training in general practice in Scotland from 1996 to 1999 and worked as a family doctor until 2006.