This collaborative project was completed by the Cochrane Child Health Field at the University of Alberta, Canada and the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford. The study sought to identify the high quality evidence base for interventions relevant to children in primary care and to develop a framework to identify avoidable waste in the production of research evidence. This was the first comprehensive mapping of the applicability of Cochrane systematic reviews to a large clinical topic which identified mismatches between the focus of Cochrane reviews and the burden of childhood illness in primary care. The study also identified that several methodological limitations in Cochrane reviews, including combining adults and children in meta-analyses, and a high proportion of out-of-date reviews. To improve the quality, relevance and use of Cochrane reviews, we outlined important further steps to identify and prioritize which systematic reviews are needed. Once prioritized, Cochrane Review Groups, funders, and other relevant organizations need to promote those topics among potential authors.
The findings were disseminated to the Editor-in-Chief of the Cochrane Collaboration Dr David Tovey and to Cochrane Review Groups. The Cochrane Agenda and Priority Setting Methods Group is using projects such as this one, to improve the relevance and utility of Cochrane systematic reviews.