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Mosquitoes and malaria: Cochrane is on the case

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 18:10

Reposted with permission from Cochrane Infectious Diseases 

14 Cochrane Reviews used in the World Health Organization Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria.

Bednets with insecticide in the fabric reduce child deaths by about one-fifth in malaria areas in Africa – that was the key message of the Cochrane Review published in 1998. Since then the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group (CIDG) malaria portfolio has expanded to over 70 reviews. CIDG authors have assessed the evidence mainly related to malaria chemoprevention and chemotherapy, with 14 Cochrane Reviews used in formulating recommendations in the third edition of the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria. Now, the WHO wants to use evidence synthesis more extensively in their malaria vector control guidelines, and the CIDG is helping to co-ordinate this effort.

Attendees at the ‘Cochrane Reviews and Guideline Development in Malaria Vector Control’ workshop.

Liverpool was the meeting point in early May 2017 for Cochrane authors, editors, entomologists, and others working on a set of reviews to help inform these guidelines. Participants were able to see how the reviews fitted together and related to the guidelines, helped authors to harmonize the reviews, and provided the opportunity for feedback. Seven Cochrane Reviews on mosquito vector control are currently in progress, with collaborators from the LSTM Department of Vector Biology, the Department of Biosciences in Durham, and researchers in Tanzania and Kenya.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 Category: Making a Difference

Cochrane welcomes the commitment of funders and international NGOs to implement WHO clinical trial reporting standards

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 00:23

18 May 2017 | Geneva - Some of the world’s largest funders of medical research and international non-governmental organizations have agreed on new standards that will require all clinical trials they fund or support to be registered and the results disclosed publicly.

In a joint statement, the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Norwegian Research Council, the UK Medical Research Council, Médecins Sans Frontières and Epicentre (its research arm), PATH, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Institut Pasteur, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust agreed to develop and implement policies within the next 12 months that require all trials they fund, co-fund, sponsor or support to be registered in a publicly-available registry. They also agreed that all results would be disclosed within specified timeframes on the registry and/or by publication in a scientific journal.

Today, about 50% of clinical trials go unreported, according to several studies, often because the results are negative. These unreported trial results leave an incomplete and potentially misleading picture of the risks and benefits of vaccines, drugs and medical devices, and can lead to use of suboptimal or even harmful products.

"Research funders are making a strong statement that there will be no more excuses on why some clinical trials remain unreported long after they have completed," said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation at the World Health Organization (WHO).

The signatories to the statement also agreed to monitor compliance with registration requirements and to endorse the development of systems to monitor results reporting.

"We need timely clinical trial results to inform clinical care practices as well as make decisions about allocation of resources for future research," said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research. "We welcome the agreement of international standards for reporting timeframes that everyone can work towards."

In 2015 WHO published its position on public disclosure of results from clinical trials, which defines timeframes within which results should be reported, and calls for older unpublished trials to be reported. That position builds on the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki in 2013. Today’s agreement by some of the world’s major research funders and international NGOs will mean the ethical principles described in both statements will now be enforced in thousands of trials every year.

"Requiring summary results of clinical trials to be made freely available through open access registries within 12 months of study completion is good for both science and society," said Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust. "Not only will this help ensure that these research findings are more discoverable, but it will also reduce reporting biases, which currently favour publication of trials which have a positive outcome. Today’s statement is in line with Wellcome’s broader ambition to make all research outputs which arise from our funding more findable, accessible, and re-usable."

Most of these trials and their results will be accessible via WHO’s International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, a unique global database of clinical trials that compiles data from 17 registries around the world, including the United States of America’s, the European Union’s Clinical Trials Register, the Chinese and Indian Clinical Trial Registries and many others.

"We fully support this statement and look forward to working towards increasing the availability of results from clinical trials,” said Dr John-Arne Røttingen, Chief Executive of the Research Council of Norway. “The public disclosure of results from clinical trials will improve resource allocation to research in a broad sense, and is also in line with our policies on transparency, and on open access."

“The adoption of the WHO standards by major funders and NGOs sends a clear signal that all results from clinical trials should be publicly available,” said Lisa Bero, Cochrane Board Co-Chair. “We hope that others also will adopt these standards and we look forward to seeing regular progress reports on the implementation of this policy.”

“Cochrane Review authors often struggle to obtain the unpublished results of trials, so this commitment will provide valuable data. Going forward, it will be useful to have detailed standards for results reporting for all trial outcomes to ensure that usable data are available for systematic reviews. Ensuring that clinical trials results are available empowers policy-makers, clinicians, and individuals have the best available information to make informed choices about health and health care.”

As a founding member of AllTrials, we will continue to work to have all clinical trial results publicly available. For more information please see our policy on data access.

Comments from other signatories:

Dr Micaela Serafini, Medical Director, Médecins Sans Frontières
"Timely reporting of all clinical trial results is of upmost importance to MSF allowing fully informed decisions when it comes to health strategies, treatments and diagnostics. We fully support this move towards increased transparency and accountability in clinical research."

Dr Trevor Mundel, President, Global Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
"It's a 21st-century best practice – and an essential part of the social contract that underlies medical research – that clinical trial data should be made publicly available less than one year after a clinical trial's completion. We strongly support WHO's effort to establish a global standard for reporting data within this timeframe, which is a practice we require of our grantees as well."

Dr David C. Kaslow, Vice President of Essential Medicines at PATH
"PATH remains deeply committed to the timely public disclosure of clinical trial results to accelerate development of new interventions and to ensure access to and transparency of safety and efficacy data, no matter if positive or negative. Full and consistent implementation of WHO standards on reporting clinical trial results is an important step towards better understanding the risks and benefits of vaccines, drugs, and medical devices, and the optimal use of new interventions."


Monday, May 22, 2017

Be a Cochrane Citizen Scientist and contribute to health evidence

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 16:30

Globally many are in isolation or are practicing social distancing. Cochrane invites anyone who is interested in healthcare evidence to become a virtual citizen scientist! Anyone can join and no previous experience is necessary.

Cochrane Crowd is a global community of volunteers who are helping to classify the research needed to support informed decision-making about health care. Everyone is welcome to join!

The job of the Cochrane Crowd community is to review descriptions of research studies to identify and classify randomized controlled trials (RCTs), a type of study that is considered the gold standard for clinical trials. Reports of RCTs are then fed into Cochrane’s Central Register of Controlled Trials, helping Cochrane authors and other systematic reviewers around the world quickly find the evidence they need to determine whether a treatment works, or whether a diagnostic test is accurate.

Anyone can join Cochrane Crowd and no previous experience is necessary. Members find the experience helps build skills in evidence assessment, and by focusing their effort to a health topic of interest they can keep abreast of the latest research. Brief (and fun!) online training is provided, and any contribution is welcome, whether it be five minutes here and there or more focused periods of time.

Want to get involved? Watch the tour of the platform below and then head over to Cochrane Crowd to sign up and start screening! And don’t forget to tell your colleagues, friends, and families – the more the merrier!


Over the next few weeks we are planning to run short weekly challenges where all Crowd contributors can come together online and help identify studies for a particular task. We’ll send out more details about these mini challenges very soon!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Cochrane launches Cochrane Sweden

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 15:19

Cochrane, a global independent network of researchers, professionals, patients, carers and people interested in health, is proud to announce its newest Associate Centre, Cochrane Sweden.

The new Cochrane Sweden Centre is located in the city of Lund, and is affiliated with the Department of Research & Development / Section for HTA Analysis, Skåne University Hospital, in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden, and with the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen.

Cochrane Sweden will promote evidence-based decision making in health care across Sweden by supporting and training new Swedish authors of Cochrane Reviews, as well as working with clinicians, professional associations, policy-makers, patients, and the media to encourage the dissemination and use of Cochrane evidence.

Cochrane works with collaborators from more than 130 countries to produce credible, accessible health information that is free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of interest.  Cochrane’s work is recognized as representing an international gold standard for high quality, trusted information.

Cochrane Sweden will be co-ordinated and led by its new Centre Director, Matteo Bruschettini, who will offer methodological support, mentoring, and supervision.

Matteo Bruschettini says this is a hugely exciting opportunity: “The launch of Cochrane Sweden is very important, both to Sweden and globally. Producing and increasing the dissemination of the best available information on health care is critical for clinicians and patients everywhere in the world, including Sweden.”

The Director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, Prof. Peter Gøtzsche, added, “Sweden has one of the highest productions of randomized clinical trials in the world per million inhabitants, so the establishment of Cochrane Sweden will provide us with an excellent opportunity for scientific growth, and for introducing students and a future generation of doctors to Cochrane methodology. It will also be easier to support patients and health professionals in Sweden in improving their decision-making based on the best available evidence.”

Professor Ingemar Petersson, Head of Research, Skåne University Hospital, concluded, “This is an innovation for our country, and we intend to collaborate in the dissemination of Cochrane Reviews and to continue supporting Cochrane to reach its 2020 strategic objectives.”

Cochrane’s CEO Mark Wilson warmly welcomed today’s news: “I am delighted to announce the launch of Cochrane Sweden. We look forward to welcoming more Swedish collaborators to our worldwide network; and we believe that the new Associate Centre will greatly expand the scope, reach, and impact of Cochrane evidence on health and healthcare decision-making across Sweden. This is important because despite its sophisticated and developed healthcare system, we think that Swedish clinicians, researchers, policy makers, patients and the general public are not using our evidence as they could to improve health outcomes.”

For more information on the work of Cochrane Sweden, please visit


For further information, please contact:

Matteo Bruschettini
Director of Cochrane Sweden
+46(0) 72 595 1356

Jo Anthony
Senior Media and Communications Manager, Cochrane
+44(0) 7582 726 634 or

About Cochrane

Cochrane is a global independent network of researchers, professionals, patients, carers and people interested in health.

Cochrane produces reviews which study all of the best available evidence generated through research and make it easier to inform decisions about health. These are called systematic reviews.

Cochrane is a not-for-profit organization with collaborators from more than 130 countries working together to produce credible, accessible health information that is free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of interest. Our work is recognised as representing an international gold standard for high quality, trusted information.

Find out more at
Follow us on twitter @cochranecollab

If you are a journalist or member of the press and wish to receive news alerts before their online publication or if you wish to arrange an interview with an author, please contact the Cochrane press office:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Defining Cochrane’s success

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 00:30

2017 sees Cochrane enter its fourth year of Strategy to 2020, which aims to put Cochrane evidence at the heart of health decision-making all over the world.

Cochrane’s Senior Management Team has recently released a document that provides the Governing Board, and the wider Cochrane community, with a definition of success for each of the Strategy to 2020 objectives; an assessment of predicted progress by the end of 2017; and a framework for establishing the work still to be done.

To find out more, please read a recent post on the Cochrane Community Blog which includes an interview with our CEO Mark Wilson and a link to our definitions of success document.

Defining Cochrane’s success - an interview with our CEO


Monday, May 15, 2017

How Cochrane is using Microsoft technology to improve the efficiency of systematic review production

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 04:49

The Cochrane Transform Project’s Evidence Pipeline is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to screen thousands of trial reports and identify those that are most likely to be relevant to include in Cochrane Reviews. This reduces the workload considerably for Cochrane Review authors, freeing their time to focus on more in-depth analysis work.

The Cochrane Evidence Pipeline is using Microsoft’s Azure Machine Learning technology to support this work. Find out more in this video:

Democratizing AI to Improve Citizen Health

Friday, May 12, 2017

Cochrane 2016 Annual Review now available

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 11:14
2016 was a year of organizational change and growth for Cochrane.

Find out more about Cochrane’s key achievements during 2016, and the strides being made on our major Strategy to 2020 initiatives.

Hear from our Community, get the latest financial standing, and our geographical reach. Read more about the  improvements to our products, ways of working, outreach and, most importantly, how Cochrane Reviews are making a difference on health decision making by users of our evidence across the world.

To download, share, and embed the 2016 Annual Review, hover over the box and the options will appear at the bottom.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Call for nominations: Cochrane Governing Board members

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 10:55
Deadline for submitting nominations: 20 June 2017
  • Two internal members
  • Three external members
  • One Co-Chair
Do you want to help shape Cochrane’s strategic direction and build your leadership profile?

Cochrane exists so that healthcare decisions get better. Over the past 20 years we have helped to transform the way health decisions are made. We do this by identifying, appraising, and synthesizing individual research findings to produce the best available evidence on what can work, what might harm, and where more research is needed. We are widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading organizations in the health sector, with a reputation for producing high-quality, credible information to inform health decision-making. But we want to achieve more – and our Strategy to 2020 aims to put Cochrane evidence at the heart of health decision-making all over the world.

We now invite you to apply to help lead the organization to 2020 and beyond.

Due to the expiry of current terms of existing Governing Board members, we are seeking to elect two (2) internal members from the Cochrane community; appoint three (3) external members; and appoint one (1) Co-Chair to replace Lisa Bero, who is stepping down from her post after four years of outstanding service on the Board. The new Co-Chair will work with current Co-Chair, Cindy Farquhar.

You must have strong leadership skills, vision, and expertise, and be able to play a pivotal role in Cochrane’s future success. You will bring high levels of personal integrity to the role and a commitment to working in a multi-cultural, geographically diverse organization. You must be able to challenge and debate constructively, whilst exemplifying mutual trust and respect for other Board members. Candidates who have not served at a board/director level before are welcome to apply.

The deadline for nominations is the end of your day on Tuesday 20 June 2017.

For more information and details of how to nominate, please visit the Cochrane Community Board Elections page.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 Category: Jobs

Feature Review: Asthma education for school staff

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 16:04

In this blog, GP Dr Robin Carr discusses the latest Cochrane evidence on whether asthma education for teachers and other school staff could improve the care of children with asthma in schools and reduce asthma deaths. Reposted with permission from Evidently Cochrane blog. 

“ You can’t be serious, kids still die of asthma in your country?” my shocked friend said. “Actually, they still die in yours too”, I replied.

I remember as a GP when I first arrived in Somerset that they were still talking about the 12 year old child who had died from an asthma attack some years earlier. At that stage, the number of asthma deaths was about 2000 per year and had been coming down.

Preventing asthma deaths

The overall deaths from asthma have come down in the last 30 years but it still remains a common cause of death worldwide. So it was with alarm that we all read The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) report on asthma deaths, which had concluded many are avoidable. There are added risks in low-income, minority and ethnic groups for increased asthma mortality.

The most shocking of all were the numbers of children who had died from asthma: 80% of under tens had a preventable intervention that could have helped, could have prevented their deaths. Most of them had not received any medical care.

There were a number of simple contributions that could have been made by the individuals themselves, through parents, schools, primary care and secondary care. The simplest of these was a Personalised Asthma Action Plan (PAAP). NRAD concluded that for school-aged children, parents and schools had a significant part to play in this great responsibility and an opportunity to stop this needless suffering.

Having witnessed many asthma attacks in adults and children, I can promise you it is a frightening thing. I was always taught not to show anxiety as this would inevitably be spotted by the parents or child and make the situation worse. But even for someone who had been trained, and knew exactly what to do and had the kit to do it, it was still alarming. I can only imagine the fear it must create for someone who is placed in loco parentis, as a teacher of an asthmatic child, when faced with a possible life-threatening asthma attack. I suspect that many will have made efforts to avoid this position and may even have considered their role as a teacher, if they were now expected to respond in this way?

Finding out if teaching staff about asthma in schools could help

So what more could be done in schools that had been shown to work; teachers and schools are hard pressed enough without being expected to do something extra without robust proof of success?

Our Cochrane systematic review wanted to explore the question of educational contributions made in schools and what effect these then had on the children with asthma. Five cluster randomized controlled trials were looked at after an extensive search of the published literature. These covered 111 schools. They were all educational interventions although they differed in length and content. Because of this variation making quantitative or qualitative conclusions is hard, but there were a number of strong signals that came out.

  • In the schools where staff had been given asthma education, the schools were more likely to have a written asthma policy.
  • The staff were better prepared and they stuck more rigidly to the school policies for asthma.
  • The intervention schools showed improvement in the measures taken to either prevent asthma or manage exercise-induced asthma attacks.
  • Crucially, more staff in the intervention schools were more confident in knowing how to use salbutamol and a spacer.
  • The educated staff had higher levels of knowledge about asthma.

But the quality of the studies was low and so drawing quantitative conclusions  from these studies would be a mistake. Sadly, no outcomes such as admissions to hospital were measured.

So, one is left hoping that an improvement in staff knowledge will lead to a more appropriate response and improved outcomes. But we will have to await the results of such a study, where these outcomes are measured, if and when it is done. But it is fair to say that the first step in changing practice is to recognise an educational learning need and to address that.

The way forward

Our study has shown that there is a lack of good, robust evidence to support our teaching colleagues with this task and onerous responsibility but that education does improve knowledge and will improve confidence and schools having policies and protocols to address asthma in the school place.

Education of staff along with Personalised Asthma Action Plans, access to immediately necessary treatment, in line with what is in the PAAP, and confidence with recognising an asthma attack and administering appropriate treatment, must be the way forward. We need to do everything we can to help our teaching community to help our children with this wholly preventable condition.


Kew KM, Carr R, Donovan T, Gordon M. Asthma education for school staff. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD012255. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012255.pub2.

Royal College of Physicians. Why asthma still kills: The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) Confidential Enquiry report. London: Royal College of Physicians; 2014. Available from:

Disclosure statement:

I have received honoraria from GSK, BI, Astrazenica, Chiesi, Pfitzer and Trudell for educational events that I have either organised or contributed to over the last three years. I have organised educational events for Oxfordshire which have involved payments from pharmaceutical companies to cover the cost of venues and educational materials for study days and small group work. I have received travel re-imbursement from Cochrane. I have been employed by Oxfordshire CCG as the respiratory lead and was the medical director for Avanaula Systems Ltd which ran the Somerset COPD service from 2007-2014.

I do not believe that any or all of these sources have either influenced or could be perceived to influence this piece of work or any of my work for Cochrane.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cochrane Taiwan announces appointment of new Director

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 19:28

We are pleased to announce that Cochrane Taiwan has appointed Chiehfeng (Cliff) Chen as its new Director, effective February 2017.

Cochrane Taiwan’s work in supporting and promoting evidence-based health care goes back to 2003, and Cliff has been involved with the team’s activities for 11 years. Under the leadership of Founding Director Ken Kuo, the Cochrane Taiwan team has been instrumental in establishing the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Taipei Medical University with government support for initiatives including funding for Cochrane Library access for all Ministry of Health and Welfare affiliated hospitals.

Cochrane Taiwan’s many other accomplishments include their key role in establishing an informal alliance of countries in East Asia in 2007 that meets annually and provides opportunities for training in systematic reviews. Taiwanese people are frequent users of the Library, often in the top ten of countries for full-text downloads, at the top of the list of non-English speaking countries for many years. Taiwan has made around 3,800 Cochrane Review abstracts available in Traditional Chinese; these have been translated by an active network of 500 clinicians. 

Ken will be stepping down from managing day-to-day operations but will continue to provide advisory support and contributions to the team’s work.

Cochrane CEO Mark Wilson said, ‘I congratulate and warmly welcome Cliff to his new role. This opens a new chapter for the Cochrane Taiwan team following the outstanding leadership of Ken Kuo in supporting and promoting evidence-based health care over more than a decade. I look forward immensely to working with Cliff in his new role and the great team at Cochrane Taiwan.’

Please join us in congratulating Ken, Cliff, and Cochrane Taiwan as they begin this new era, and wishing them every success for the future.

Find out more about Cochrane Taiwan's work

Friday, April 28, 2017

Join the MedLit Blitz: 24 hour screening challenge

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 16:52
Working together to create health evidence & transform biomedical discovery

Got a burning passion for health? Ready to make a difference? We’ve got you covered.

Join Cochrane Crowd, our partner Mark2Cure and our collective global volunteer network for an online MedLit Blitz, 9-12 May.

Together we will create health evidence and transform biomedical discovery. And we’d love you to be with us.

Why a MedLit Blitz?

Cochrane Crowd has run a number of successful citation screening challenges and we’re upping the ante by running a bigger event, the MedLit Blitz, with our wonderful partner, Mark2Cure. And it just so happens to coincide with the anniversary of both platforms and with Citizen Science Day 2017. Get ready to celebrate!

What exactly is happening for the MedLit Blitz?

We’re running 2 x 24-hour online screening challenges.


The Cochrane Crowd challenge begins on Tuesday 9th May at 10am GMT + 1 (UK time zone) and finishes at 10am on Wednesday 10th May.

The Mark2Cure challenge begins on Thursday 11th May at 7pm GMT + 1 (UK time zone) and finishes at 7pm on Friday 12th May.

How much time do I have to commit?

Of course, we’d love you to do both challenges in their entirety! Just kidding. Any contribution is welcomed, whether it be a few five-minute grabs or a more focused effort. You can choose to contribute to one challenge or to both.

Sounds good so far. But I’m new to Cochrane Crowd. What is it all about?

Your best bet is to watch our 2-minute video introduction here.

If I join in, what will I be doing?

Your mission in Cochrane Crowd is to identify studies that provide the best possible evidence of the effectiveness of a health treatment. Once identified by the Crowd the studies go into a central register where health researchers and practitioners can access them. The more studies identified by the Crowd, the more high-quality evidence is available to help health practitioners treat their clients.

Your mission in Mark2Cure is to identify how genes, diseases, and drugs are conceptually related, based on biomedical text. Mark2Cure works by teaching citizen scientists to precisely identify concepts and concept relationships in biomedical text. Once these tasks are completed, statistical algorithms take the data provided by the volunteers and use it to provide scientists with new tools for finding the information that they require.

Don’t be spooked by the science speak! You don’t need any prior knowledge to contribute to Cochrane Crowd or Mark2Cure.

Will there be prizes?

We’re glad you asked! Prizes will go to the top three MedLit Blitz contributors. The winners will need to have taken part in both challenges. What are the prizes, you ask? You’ll have to wait and see!

As for the details: your contribution will be scored according to the number of citations screened in Cochrane Crowd plus the number of relationship annotations submitted in Mark2Cure.

I’d like to know more about Cochrane Crowd, Mark2Cure and the MedLit Blitz.

Brilliant! We’re running a webinar on Monday 8th May to talk more about all of the above. Everyone is welcome, whether you’re already contributing to one or both platforms, or are a complete newcomer.

How do I sign up for the MedLit Blitz?

The process is very simple. You just have to sign up to the platform(s) you’ll be contributing to. Once you are signed up, we will email you with a reminder or two about the Blitz.



Sounds fun, can I tell all my friends about it and get them to join in?

Yes please! We want as many as possible to join us. You could share this page (share buttons below), retweet our tweets, or include information about the MedLit Blitz in your organisation’s newsletter or website.

How can I find out more?

You can email Emily and Anna from Cochrane Crowd at and Ginger from Mark2Cure at And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Cochrane Heart seeks Research Associate/Systematic Review Specialist - London, UK

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 00:42

Cochrane Heart is seeking a Research Associate/Systematic Review Specialist. This post is based at the Group's editorial base at University College London's Institute of Health Informatics and will play an essential role in the conduction and editorial process of new systematic reviews on interventions for cardiovascular disorders. For more information, please see the full job description on the UCL website.

Closing date: 10 May 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017 Category: Jobs

New evidence finds standardized cigarette packaging may reduce the number of people who smoke.

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 13:44

New Cochrane Review finds standardized tobacco packaging may lead to a reduction in smoking prevalence and reduces the appeal of tobacco.

 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use kills more people worldwide than any other preventable cause of death. Global health experts believe the best way to reduce tobacco use is by stopping people starting to use tobacco, and encouraging and helping existing users to stop.

 The introduction of standardized (or ‘plain’) packaging was recommended by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) guidelines. This recommendation was based on evidence around tobacco promotion in general and studies which examined the impact of changes in packaging on knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviour. Standardized tobacco packaging places restrictions on the appearance of tobacco packs so that there is a uniform colour (and in some cases shape), with no logos or branding apart from health warnings and other government-mandated information; the brand name appears in a prescribed uniform font, colour, and size.

A number of countries have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, standardized tobacco packaging.  Australia was the first country in the world to implement standardized packaging of tobacco products.  The laws, which took full effect there in December 2012, also required enlarged pictorial health warnings. 

 A team of Cochrane researchers from the UK and Canada have summarized results from studies that examine the impact of standardized packaging on tobacco attitudes and behaviour. They have published their findings in the Cochrane Library.

The author team found 51 studies that looked at standardized packaging. The studies differed in the way they were done and also what they measured.  Only one country had implemented standardized packaging at the time of this review, so evidence that tobacco use prevalence may have decreased following standardized packaging comes from one large observational study.  A reduction in smoking behaviour is supported by routinely collected data from the Australian government. There are data from a range of other studies to indicate that appeal is lower with standardized packaging and this may help to explain the observed decline in prevalence. Researchers did not find any evidence suggesting that standardized packaging may increase tobacco use. No studies directly measured whether standardized packs influence uptake, cessation, or whether they prevent former smokers from taking up smoking again. 

The amount of evidence for standardized packaging has increased markedly since the publication of the WHO guidelines in 2008. However, given its recency, there are no data on long-term impact. The amount of evidence will continue to expand as more countries implement standardized packaging and as studies assessing the longer-term effects of the Australian policy become available.

Cochrane lead author and Deputy Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Professor Ann McNeill from King’s College London, said, “Evaluating the impact of standardized packaging on smoking behaviour is difficult to do; but the evidence available to us, whilst limited at this time, indicates that standardized packaging may reduce smoking prevalence. These findings are supported by evidence from a variety of other studies that have shown that standardized packaging reduces the promotional appeal of tobacco packs, in line with the regulatory objectives set. It would appear that the impact of standardized packaging may be affected by the detail of the regulations such as whether they ban descriptors, such as ‘smooth’ or ‘gold’, and control the shape of the tobacco pack.”

Co-author Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, from the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group, Oxford, UK, added: “Our evidence suggests that standardized packaging can change attitudes and beliefs about smoking, and the evidence we have so far suggests that standardized packaging may reduce smoking prevalence and increase quit attempts. We didn’t find any studies on whether changing tobacco packaging affects the number of young people starting to smoke, and we look forward to further research on this topic.”



 Editor’s notes:

Full citation: McNeill A, Gravely S, Hitchman SC, Bauld L, Hammond D, Hartmann-Boyce J. Tobacco packaging design for reducing tobacco use. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 4. Art. No: CD011244. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD011244.

For further information, please contact,

Jo Anthony
Senior Media and Communications Manager, Cochrane 
M +44(0) 7582 726 634 or

Media Spokesperson:

Ann McNeill, Lead Author
Professor of Tobacco Addiction
UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies
National Addiction Centre
Institute of Psychiatry
King's College London

About Cochrane

Cochrane is a global independent network of researchers, professionals, patients, carers, and people interested in health.

Cochrane produces reviews which study the best available evidence generated through research and make it easier to inform decisions about health. These are called systematic reviews.

Cochrane is a not-for-profit organization with collaborators from more than 130 countries working together to produce credible, accessible health information that is free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of interest. Our work is recognized as representing an international gold standard for high quality, trusted information.

Find out more at

Follow us on twitter @cochranecollab

If you are a journalist or member of the press and wish to receive news alerts before their online publication or if you wish to arrange an interview with an author, please contact the Cochrane press office:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cochrane Response seeks Systematic Review Manager - London, UK

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 18:20

Specifications:  Full Time, Permanent
Dependant on Experience
Application Closing Date:
26th May 2017

Cochrane is a global independent network of health practitioners, researchers, patient advocates and others, responding to the challenge of making the vast amounts of evidence generated through research useful for informing decisions about health. We do this by identifying, appraising and synthesizing individual research findings to produce the best available evidence on what can work, what might harm and where more research is needed. The primary results of this work are Cochrane Systematic Reviews, recognised by healthcare professionals, policy makers and patients as the benchmark for high-quality information about the effectiveness of treatment interventions.

This role is an exciting opportunity for someone to lead the development and management of the systematic review team for Cochrane Response. You will have overall responsibility for managing commissioned reviews and related work; taking on project management, customer relationship management, Cochrane engagement and systematic review production tasks. This is a commercial role where you will manage the day-to-day provision and delivery of tailored evidence synthesis services, responding to commissioners’ needs on a project by project basis.

 The Ideal Candidate will have:

  • First degree in a related field e.g. medical sciences, biology, statistics and a higher degree relevant to the research area or equivalent qualifications.
  • 5+ years of relevant experience in systematic reviews.
  • Authorship on at least one Cochrane Review.
  • Must have demonstrated expertise in relevant evidence synthesis project management activities.
  • Ability to exercise independent judgment within generally defined practices and policies that lead to methods or processes for obtaining results.
  • Good organization and planning skills.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and communication skills (both written and oral).
  • Excellent presentation skills.
  • Ability to problem solve and delegate appropriate tasks to subordinates.
  • Strong leadership skills, self-motivated, adaptable to a dynamic environment.
  • Able to collaborate effectively with the project team, and external partners.
  • Adaptable and flexible to changing business and customer needs.
  • Proficient IT skills, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
  • Able to travel internationally.

For further information, please download the full job description.

If you would like to apply for this position, please send a CV along with a supporting statement and your salary expectations to with “Cochrane Response Systematic Review Manager” in the subject line.  The supporting statement should indicate why you are applying for the post, and how far you meet the requirements for the post outlined in the job description using specific examples.  List your experience, achievements, knowledge, personal qualities, and skills which you feel are relevant to the post.
Deadline for applications: 26th May 2017


Wednesday, April 26, 2017 Category: Jobs

Cochrane goes to the March for Science

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 01:54

The March for Science took place on Saturday, 22 April 2017 - also known as Earth Day, a commemoration of environmental advocacy and science in the public interest established in the United States nearly 50 years ago. The March took place in more than 600 cities around the world, to champion the science that upholds the common good.

Cochrane contributors participated in marches worldwide and took part in Cochrane Crowd’s March for Science Sprint Screen. For more updates, please see the round-up on our Community site.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cochrane Eyes and Visions seeks Methodologist - Baltimore, USA

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 13:21

Classified Title: Sr. Research Data Analyst
Salary: $49,957 - $68,721 
Contract: Minimum 2-year commitment, with funding for up to 5 years. John Hopkins University will arrange for work visas for qualified candidates.
Status: Full Time, Monday - Friday 37.5 hrs.
Location: Baltimore, USA
Closing Date: 26 May, 2017

 This position is with the Cochrane Eyes and Vision (CEV) US Project. Primary duties include providing methodological support for the production of systematic reviews of interventions to prevent and treat eye disease and visual impairment and coordinating the activities of CEV systematic reviews conducted by US-based ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other vision researchers.

As a methodologist, the candidate will assist with key tasks in the systematic review process such as refining research questions, identifying and assessing relevant research studies for eligibility, critically appraising primary studies for bias, developing data collection forms, extracting/entering data, performing qualitative and quantitative synthesis (meta-analyses) of primary studies, and preparing manuscripts for publication in The Cochrane Library.

This position will serve as a technical expert and provide regular consultation to more than 50 US-based eye care clinicians and vision researchers conducting reviews and will perform any or all of the key tasks mentioned above to provide assistance as necessary. The candidate also will work closely with the Project Director, Principal Investigator, and additional CEV staff in the United Kingdom to resolve methodological and statistical issues and to ensure that reviews conducted by US-based researchers are of the highest quality.
Will assist with the development and preparation of training materials and actively participate in workshops on evidence-based healthcare and systematic review preparation. Other duties include participating in methodological research conducted by CEV faculty, providing support to staff by identifying unpublished clinical trials, assisting with reports to the funding agency, participating in journal clubs, organizing conference calls and staff meetings, and performing other tasks as assigned.

Master's degree in Epidemiology or other health related field with one year of experience related to the preparation and interpretation of systematic reviews, data management, and quality control procedures is required. Require highly specialized advanced knowledge, education and/or training in a specialized field of study to conduct research. Excellent oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills are required. A writing sample should be submitted with the application. Ability to produce and deliver effective presentations to a diverse audience is a must. Demonstrated ability on significant graduate project or additional doctoral education may substitute for experience to the extent permitted by the JHU equivalency formula. Must possess knowledge of Medical Science and Epidemiology. Experience in eyes and vision research a plus. Computer-related skills and familiarity with a variety of software applications including word processing, graphing, statistical, presentation and reference management software an absolute requirement. Keen attention to detail and excellent time and project management skills to handle multiple priorities and concurrent projects is required for this position. Must possess the ability to work independently and exercise initiative and independent judgment.

For more information and to apply, please see the full job posting.


Thursday, April 20, 2017 Category: Jobs

Cochrane Vascular seeks Information Specialist / Systematic Review Methodologist - Edinburgh, UK

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 21:54

Applications are invited for the post of Information Specialist / Systematic Review Methodologist, to work as part of Cochrane Vascular based in Edinburgh, UK. Cochrane Vascular facilitates the development, publication, and maintenance of Cochrane systematic reviews addressing the diagnosis and treatment of peripheral vascular disease.

The post holder is expected to generate and manage their own workload to meet the overall objectives of Cochrane Vascular. This includes responsibility for all activities related to planning, organising and carrying out trials searching activities, working closely with and advising review authors in the development of their systematic reviews relating to trial searching and review methodology, and maintaining the Cochrane Vascular Trials Register.

The post holder must be educated to degree level with a qualification in a scientific/medical discipline, or information science, or librarianship; have significant relevant experience in a research environment; advanced literature searching expertise and experience of designing complex electronic search strategies; experience of conducting high-quality quantitative systematic reviews including critical appraisal, meta-analysis and writing up research for publication; and excellent inter-personal, writing, and communications skills.

For more information


Post: Information Specialist/Systematic Review Methodologist

Vacancy ref: 039430

To apply

Please register online at

Closing date: 21 April 2017


Wednesday, April 12, 2017 Category: Jobs

Launch of Cochrane Global Mental Health

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 19:19

Cochrane is delighted to announce today the development of  Cochrane Global Mental Healtha partnership that brings together the five Cochrane Review Groups that cover mental health conditions and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health and Service Evaluation, Section of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology.

Cochrane Global Mental Health is located in the city of Verona, Italy, and is affiliated with the University of Verona, where the WHO Collaborating Centre is based. Cochrane Global Mental Health will promote evidence-based decision making in mental health care in low- and middle-income countries by supporting and training new authors of Cochrane Reviews, as well as working with clinicians, professional associations, policy-makers, patients, and the media to encourage the dissemination and use of Cochrane evidence globally.

Cochrane Global Mental Health is part of Cochrane, a global independent network of researchers, professionals, patients, carers, and people interested in health. Cochrane works with collaborators from more than 130 countries to produce credible, accessible health information that is free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of interest. Cochrane’s work is recognized as representing an international gold standard for high quality, trusted information.

Activities of Cochrane Global Mental Health will be co-ordinated and led by Corrado Barbui, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health and Service Organization, University of Verona, and Marianna Purgato, Post-Doctoral Researcher affiliated with the WHO Collaborating Centre.

Activities are planned, developed, and conducted in partnership with the five Cochrane Review Groups that cover mental health research: Cochrane Common Mental Disorders, Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement, Cochrane Developmental, Psychosocial and Learning Problems, Cochrane Drugs and Alcohol, and Cochrane Schizophrenia.

The Coordinator of Cochrane Global Mental Health, Corrado Barbui, says this is a hugely exciting opportunity: “The launch of Cochrane Global Mental Health is very important. We aim at developing a mutual learning approach and exchange attitude between mental health workers in different parts of the world. Producing and increasing the dissemination of the best available information on mental health care is critical for clinicians and patients everywhere in the world.”

The Cochrane Library's Editor in Chief, Dr David Tovey,  warmly welcomed today’s news, “I am delighted we are announcing the Cochrane Global Mental Health which, by working closely together, will deepen and expand the scope, reach, and impact of Cochrane activities on health and healthcare decision making in low- and middle-income countries. Cochrane Global Mental Health will promote recognition and dissemination of studies conducted and published in low- and middle-income countries and this will not only simply increase the access of evidence, but also promote sharing of clinical experiences across countries.”

“We are keen to have a strong contribution in the work of Cochrane Global Mental Health from low- and middle-income countries, with the option of increasing involvement as capacity allows. Our chance to support mental health professionals in improving their decision making based on the best available evidence will support patient care” Marianna Purgato said. “This is an innovation for low- and middle-income countries and we intend to collaborate in the dissemination of Cochrane Reviews and to continue supporting Cochrane to reach its 2020 strategic objectives.”


For further information, please contact

Jo Anthony

Senior Media and Communications Manager, Cochrane 

M +44(0) 7582 726 634 or

For more information on the work of Cochrane Global Mental Health, please visit the website:

About Cochrane
Cochrane is a global independent network of researchers, professionals, patients, carers, and people interested in health.

Cochrane produces reviews which study all of the best available evidence generated through research and make it easier to inform decisions about health. These are called systematic reviews.

Cochrane is a not-for-profit organization with collaborators from more than 120 countries working together to produce credible, accessible health information that is free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of interest. Our work is recognised as representing an international gold standard for high quality, trusted information.

Find out more at

Follow us on twitter @cochranecollab

If you are a journalist or member of the press and wish to receive news alerts before their online publication or if you wish to arrange an interview with an author, please contact the Cochrane press office:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Featured Review: Psychosocial interventions to support pregnant women to stop smoking

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 15:47

Reposted with permission from Cochrane Australia.

Published recently, the sixth update of the Cochrane Review on Psychosocial interventions for supporting women to stop smoking in pregnancy weighs up the evidence on a critical health and social equity issue. Smoking remains one of the few preventable factors associated with complications in pregnancy, and has serious long-term implications for women and babies. While the number of women smoking in pregnancy is decreasing in high-income countries, where it’s associated with poverty, it’s increasing in low- to middle-income countries.

‘This is now one of the largest reviews in the Cochrane Library,’ explains review author Dr Catherine Chamberlain, who has worked on each update of the review since 2003. ‘It includes 102 randomised controlled trials involving almost 30,000 women. Three of these were conducted among Indigenous communities (in Australia, Canada and New Zealand), and nine were conducted in Australia. Smoking during pregnancy is three times more prevalent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women than among non-Aboriginal women, so we need to look closely at what kinds of interventions can support Indigenous women.’ 

In this latest update, Catherine and colleagues set out to identify and compare the effectiveness of a range of psychosocial interventions that aim to support pregnant women to stop smoking, including counselling, health education, feedback, social support, incentives and exercise. They found counselling, feedback and financial incentives appear to reduce the number of women smoking in late pregnancy. The effect of health education and social support was less clear.

‘Overall we found that psychosocial interventions increased the proportion of women who had stopped smoking in late pregnancy by 35% and also increased mean infant birthweight by 56 grams. The number of babies born with low birthweight was reduced by 17% and the number admitted to neonatal intensive care immediately after birth by 22%. However, as we note in the review, most of the studies were carried out in high-income countries, making it difficult to assess if the findings are applicable to many other contexts.’

Importantly, the review finds that the interventions don’t appear to have any overall negative physical or psychological effects, are positively received by most women, and may improve psychological well-being. But as the review highlights, the findings need to be considered carefully and in the context of many complex psychological, socio-economic and environmental factors and risks.

‘Interventions should incorporate strategies to reduce the risks we identified in this review, including stigmatisation and depicting mothers who smoke as 'harming' their babies. We know that some anti-smoking campaigns aim to shock or shame people into quitting and don’t necessarily take into account low self-esteem, low self-efficacy, poverty, stress and increased caring responsibilities that are common among women who continue to smoke during pregnancy. It’s important that psychosocial interventions don’t undermine women’s self-confidence or leave them with a sense of failure.’

To add to this complexity, some psychosocial interventions such as incentives are seen as contentious. Incentive-based interventions see women receive a financial incentive in the form of shopping vouchers (and in one study lottery tickets) contingent on their stopping smoking. Incentives are offered in conjunction with feedback interventions, where information is provided to the mother about the measurement of by-products of smoking (such as carbon monoxide or urine cotinine measurements.

‘Some of the evidence we are seeing suggests incentives can be effective, but there are a whole lot of issues around what’s seen as ‘paying people not to smoke’’, says Catherine. ‘There’s been a mixed response to the concept of incentives both here in Australia and in the UK, but I think they are really interesting in terms of using positive reinforcement rather than more punitive approaches. People in low income groups often have low self-confidence and low self-efficacy so you need to balance risk messages with positive support. We’ve had a lot of contact with the people who run incentives trials and they do seem to have been highly effective when delivered intensively, even for high risk pregnant women attending drug dependency units. Incentives have the potential to reduce inequalities and support women in practical ways and that’s encouraging. So despite the controversy, we do need to do some careful thinking and analysis around this, and look clearly at the evidence for what works for different women. Nicotine replacement therapy appears to have a small effect and most people would support subsidies for these. Yet there seems to be barriers for paying similar amounts for incentives which seem to be much more effective. There are also the added benefits of funding going directly to predominantly poor pregnant women, and the pilot evidence shows these funds are spent on useful household goods such as a washing machine or fridge.  Ultimately we really need to look at and understand which psychosocial interventions work for different women and why.’

Catherine heads to the UK next month to further the aims and understanding of this review through an Endeavour Award funded by the Australian Government, the NHMRC and the Judith Lumley Centre at La Trobe University. Based with Professor James Thomas at the Evidence for Policy and Practice Centre at University College London, Catherine will meet with colleagues from the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group, the UK Tobacco Control Centre and Dundee and Stirling Universities to discuss and analyse both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of this important research. 

Image: Dr Catherine ChamberlainWords: Shauna Hurley Monday, April 3, 2017