|The Cochrane Collaboration|
|Motto||Working together to provide the best evidence for health care|
|Purpose/focus||Independent research into data about health care|
|Steering Group Co-Chairs||
|Volunteers||Over 31,000 as of 2013|
The Cochrane Collaboration is an independent nonprofit organization consisting of a group of more than 31,000 volunteers in more than 120 countries. The collaboration was formed to organize medical research information in a systematic way in the interests of evidence-based medicine.
The group conducts systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials of health-care interventions, which it publishes in the Cochrane Library. A few reviews (in fields such as occupational health) have also studied the results of non-randomized, observational studies.
The collaboration formed an official relationship in January 2011 with the World Health Organization as a partner NGO, with a seat on the World Health Assembly to provide input into WHO resolutions.
The Cochrane Collaboration was founded in 1993 under the leadership of Iain Chalmers. It was developed in response to Archie Cochrane's call for up-to-date, systematic reviews of all relevant randomized controlled trials of health care. Cochrane's suggestion that the methods used to prepare and maintain reviews of controlled trials in pregnancy and childbirth should be applied more widely was taken up by the Research and Development Programme, initiated to support the United Kingdom's National Health Service. Through the NHS R&D programme, led by the first Director of Research and Development Professor Michael Peckham, funds were provided to establish a 'Cochrane Centre', to collaborate with others, in the UK and elsewhere, to facilitate systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials across all areas of health care.
In October 1995, The Collaboration formed the Cochrane Consumer Network to incorporate patient perspectives into the review process. Shortly thereafter, new 'plain language summaries' provided users with a jargon-free synopsis of each systematic review.
The logo of the Cochrane Collaboration illustrates a meta analysis of data from seven randomized controlled trials (RCTs), comparing one health care treatment with a placebo in a forest plot. The diagram shows the results of a systematic review and meta analysis on inexpensive course of corticosteroid given to women about to give birth too early – the evidence on effectiveness that would have been revealed had the available RCTs been reviewed systematically a decade earlier. This treatment reduces the odds of the babies of such women dying from the complications of immaturity by 30–50%. Because no systematic review of these trials had been published until 1989, most obstetricians had not realised that the treatment was so effective and therefore many premature babies have probably suffered or died unnecessarily.
A 2004 editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal noted that Cochrane reviews appear to be more updated and of better quality than other reviews and due to their standardized methodologies, was "the best single resource for methodologic research and for developing the science of meta-epidemiology." Their work has also led to methodological improvements in the medical literature. However, the editorial also noted areas for improvement remained, including adequately assessing potential harms from medical interventions and providing a more user friendly format as well as promoting international collaboration.
- The Cochrane Collaboration web site