From the Cochrane Collaboration, the Cochrane Library offers influential evidence-based practice information. The Cochrane Library is best known for its highly regarded Cochrane Systematic Reviews which synthesize results from multiple research studies on a topic, then present recommendations based on the preponderance of the evidence. Systematic reviews from Cochrane are frequently considered the gold standard for evidence-based practice information by healthcare practitioners and health information specialists. In addition to systematic reviews, the Cochrane Library also provides information on clinical trials and other components of evidence-based practice research.
Type of Material:
This learning resource is a reference database. It is a searchable subscription website that provides access to abstracts of systematic reviews, etc. free, but requires a paid individual or institutional subscription for full text.
Clinicians and healthcare students can use information provided by the tool to find recommended courses of care for various issues. Healthcare consumers and students can also find informative summaries of disease and treatment issues as well as gain insight into care processes and alternatives.
The technical requirement include a computer with a web browser, Internet access, and Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Goals include learning about evidence-based healthcare practice and learning to evaluate research.
Target Student Population:
The information can be used by undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and clinicians in various colleges and settings respectively, for example, nursing and allied health, psychology.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Individuals who access this site must be able to speak and read English, be computer literate, and should be able to browse the website. They should also have knowledge of medical terminology.
The quality of Cochrane's content, particularly in relation to the systematic reviews, is nearly unparalleled. "Gold standard" is a descriptor for Cochrane's systematic reviews used not only on Cochrane's own website, but also in the materials of numerous healthcare information specialists and resources. Materials are compiled by subject area experts and regularly updated as new information becomes available.
As with any evidence-based practice information resource (or any treatment information resource in general), best practice treatment recommendations cannot be applied in all situations or with all patients. A clinician must consider the needs of the particular patient or situation, the clinician's own experience, and the guidance of colleagues in making treatment decisions.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
As a clinician resource for finding treatment recommendations and as a student resource for learning about evidence-based practice, this tool is phenomenal. By conducting very detailed reviews of the literature and on-going research and then condensing that information down to find, if possible, a unified recommendation, the subject area experts who work with Cochrane provide an information resource of uncommon quality and clarity.
Though the Cochrane Library is kept up to date with the latest research information and Cochrane's systematic reviews are updated regularly as new information becomes available, the potential is there that very, very new research may be missed. However, this concern may be much smaller with Cochrane than with other resources.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The tool can be easily searched without extensive knowledge of search logic or medical terminology. The relevance rating schema (default) frequently does return the most relevant results first unlike many other tools. The menu tabs are self explanatory and easy to navigate.
Individuals accessing the Cochrane Library site who lack individual or institutional subscriptions may become frustrated with lack of access to full text information.
Other Issues and Comments:
While healthcare consumers may gain great insight into treatment issues and use information found through Cochrane Library to consult with their healthcare providers, consumers should not take the authoritative information from Cochrane as a treatment prescription, but rather as a tool in the decision making process.
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