The Cochrane Library is a resource specifically aimed at healthcare professionals. It informs decision making in clinical and other healthcare situations. Cochrane draws together data and research from a wide range of clinical disciplines and it seeks to inform professionals of the best available evidence with regard to t reatments, diagnoses, screening, health promotion and the organisation of care.
To access the Cochrane Library go to the Electronic Library link on the Library website
To search the Cochrane Library go to the Electronic Library link on the Library website Click on Electronic Library
And on the following page - select databases by title
On the following page, select the letter C
Scroll down the list until you get to the entry for the Cochrane Library
Once you have found the entry for Cochrane, Click on “access” the service to get into the site You do not need a login to use the Cochrane Library - it can be accessed from any location free of charge
Reviews in Cochrane follow a standard layout which means that once you are familiar with it, you can quickly find the data you need in any review. In keeping with many internet search engines and databases, it’s usually better to use the Advanced Search function. Advanced searches make searching easier and more powerful
This is the advanced search screen and it allows you to combine keywords in various ways. Lower down the screen you can select the area of Cochrane you wish to search. In this example I’ll use the complete Cochrane Library
Searching for information is very similar to the search engines found on electronic journal sites. In this example I will demonstrate a search in which I try to find information about the use of aspirin in the prevention of strokes. Firstly I enter the two keywords “aspirin” and “stroke” Next I change the drop down options next to each search field to “Search all text”. This means that the engine will look for and retrieve any records on the system that have these two words in them. I click on search and wait for the results….
My search retrieved 137 items – and lists the results on the screen. 137 seems a very large number to browse through so I will modify the search to see if this number can be reduced.
By altering the search options I can specify that my keywords feature only in the titles of records that appear on the database, This will produce fewer results and (I hope) ensure that it will only find results are relevant to the subject in which I’m interested I hit search again and…..
The search engine has reduced the hits to just two. Even though there are far fewer than in the original example, the two records appear to be more focused on my area of interest: Cilostazol versus aspirin for secondary prevention of vascular events after stroke Thienopyridine derivatives versus aspirin for preventing stroke and other serious vascular events in high vascular risk patients Lets look at these records in a bit more detail
The two records are of two different types: Number 1 is a PROTOCOL and Number 2 is a REVIEW
Protocols in Cochrane are requests for research to be carried out – in other words, the Cochrane library needs some investigations into the subject. The protocol includes the rationale objectives and methods that must be adhered to in the study.
Number 2 in my list of hits is a review A review is a completed review of the clinical evidence and it aims to investigate interventions, prevention treatment and/or rehabilitation techniques. All reviews follow a structured format They give clear information about the methodology employed They include a comprehensive bibliography so that sources can be scrutinised further More importantly, Reviews can be modified. As and when new clinical evidence is found, Cochrane reviews are updated to ensure that they are up to date and relevant
In this review, an alternative drug is compared to aspirin and the effectiveness of the two in preventing stroke are evaluated
All reviews have a plain language summary and this is useful as it avoids technical jargon
Cochrane reviews can be read onscreen as webpages Or, you can click on the PDF option and download them in a print-friendly format
Cochrane is a very useful resource but it should not be used as a textbook or reference manual. Cochrane should be used answer questions regarding the sorts of clinical decisions that healthcare professionals face on a daily basis. These could include such things as: What are effective treatments for tinnitus? Are educational programmes effective in preventing skin cancer? Is magnesium sulphate a more effective treatment than diazepam for eclampsia Cases where Cochrane should not be used are: What causes Downs syndrome? How likely are patients with ulcerative colitis to develop bowel cancer? How many people in the UK have asthma? Do nurses suffer from stress? In all of these cases, textbooks and journal articles should be used. Cochrane would not be any use in answering these types of general questions
We hope you have found this video useful. For more information regarding the Library’s services, please see our website.