Cochrane for self, Cochrane for others

I was introduced to Cochrane by another consumer in 2007, at the time knowing nothing about Cochrane or systematic reviews. The training I received through Cochrane Canada and subsequent Colloquia made me aware of the need for critical appraisal of research and health-related information. Cochrane and its evidence-based systematic reviews have become my primary “go-to” source for treatment-related information for me, my family and those I encounter through my advocacy work.

As someone with a chronic inflammatory condition and limited income, I have used Cochrane’s reviews to search for the most effective and cost-effective interventions available for resulting complications. Most recently, a review from the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group helped me prioritize treatments for adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder). I learned that steroid injections were more effective than physiotherapy for frozen shoulder. This influenced my decision to wait to have costly physiotherapy sessions until after the pain was under control from multiple steroid injections when it would be most beneficial. The result…I am regaining movement much sooner than anticipated.

As an only child, I am the sole caregiver and decision-maker for elderly parents who have increasing health needs. Cochrane evidence has proven invaluable on several occasions.

I have used a review from the Eyes and Vison Group to quickly confirm that unpleasant eye injections were indeed the best course of action when my mother’s vision quickly deteriorated from age-related macular degeneration. This saved valuable time wading through all the information available on the internet and waiting for second or third opinions from other specialists and led to the regaining of some of her sight.

A review from the Cochrane Incontinence Group helped my mother regain some independence and dignity.

A review from the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group helped me decide not to allow my father to have a medication that potentially had more serious harms than benefits.

As a patient advocate, it is also reassuring to know that I have a reliable source of information to share with those I encounter through the support group I lead. In particular, I have used the information from a review from the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group to encourage those with my condition to faithfully continue with their prescribed exercise program to prevent future complications.

Submitted to Cochrane Canada from patient & caregiver in Hamilton, Ontario.