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AHCJ member benefit: Access to the Cochrane Library

Access to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews is free for AHCJ members. The Cochrane Collaboration and its publishing partner, John Wiley & Sons Ltd. has waived the fee for journalists who belong to AHCJ.

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is the leading resource for systematic reviews in health care. The CDSR includes Cochrane Reviews (the systematic reviews) and protocols for Cochrane Reviews as well as editorials. Systematic reviews are a way of carefully summarizing what's known and unknown about medical interventions and other topics. They are less subject to the personal biases that may be found in typical reviews written by individual clinicians or researchers.

Here are the top 10 most-viewed Cochrane Reviews from 2015:

Cochrane Reviews are ranked by access and full-text downloads during the year; therefore a Cochrane Review published in January may have a higher ranking than one published in September.

  1. Exercise for depression Gary M Cooney, Kerry Dwan, Carolyn A Greig, Debbie A Lawlor, Jane Rimer, Fiona R Waugh, Marion McMurdo, Gillian E Mead

  2. Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community Lesley D Gillespie, M Clare Robertson, William J Gillespie, Catherine Sherrington, Simon Gates, Lindy M Clemson, Sarah E Lamb

  3. Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants Elizabeth R Moore, Gene C Anderson, Nils Bergman, Therese Dowswell

  4. Interventions for preventing obesity in children Elizabeth Waters, Andrea de Silva-Sanigorski, Belinda J Burford, Tamara Brown, Karen J Campbell, Yang Gao, Rebecca Armstrong, Lauren Prosser, Carolyn D Summerbell

  5. Interventions to improve hand hygiene compliance in patient care Dinah J Gould, Donna Moralejo, Nicholas Drey, Jane H Chudleigh

  6. Midwife-led continuity models versus other models of care for childbearing women Jane Sandall, Hora Soltani, Simon Gates, Andrew Shennan, Declan Devane

  7. Honey as a topical treatment for wounds Andrew B Jull, Nicky Cullum, Jo C Dumville, Maggie J Westby, Sohan Deshpande, Natalie Walker

  8. Screening for breast cancer with mammography Peter C Gøtzsche, Karsten Juhl Jørgensen

  9. Repositioning for pressure ulcer prevention in adults Brigid M Gillespie, Wendy P Chaboyer, Elizabeth McInnes, Bridie Kent, Jennifer A Whitty, Lukmann Thalib

  10. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation and reduction Hayden McRobbie, Chris Bullen, Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, Peter Hajek

Reviewers are typically researchers who volunteer to work with other members of the Cochrane Collaboration, to perform exhaustive searches for reports of trials (both published and unpublished) from around the world. They then critically examine the quality of the trials, select the best (and explain why they accepted or rejected each trial), and then use statistical methods to synthesize the results of individual trials. In this way, systematic reviews can provide a broad sense of the state of the art.

The reviews can help journalists and our readers and audiences avoid lengthy research that may seem to conclude one thing on one day and something different the next. They also help provide context to help reporters quickly determine how a new research report compares to previous work. And finally, the reviews often point out serious gaps in our knowledge, which can help journalists determine whether the statements of their sources are based on solid evidence or merely reflect personal opinions or institutional and corporate "spin."

Systematic reviews are an essential tool for our reality checks of the research news releases with which we are inundated. The Cochrane Library is one of the leading sources of these systematic reviews.

Sign up for access to the Cochrane Library.