What is Cochrane and Why Am I Blogging About It?

The following entry was posted by Annette McKinnon, Consumer Advocate, on her blog Here's Your Gold Watch: 

Cochrane is an independent, non-profit and non-governmental organization. They have 31,000 volunteers around the world working on organizing medical research information in a systematic way so that patients, policy makers, professionals and others can easily make logical choices about health and healthcare based on the evidence.

Cochrane Canada’s funding runs out in September 2015 and will not be renewed by our government through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). In 2013 CIHR awarded Cochrane Canada the prestigious CIHR Knowledge Translation Award, for “Leadership in promoting evidence-based health care”.

Even in their letter of funding termination, CIHR refers to Cochrane as a “vibrant organization, internationally-recognized for its excellence, and committed to engaging patients in its important work;” and they note the value of their “knowledge translation activities and the quality of [the] synthesis products.

Cochrane produces systematic review which are used by everyone - from consumers to scientists to policy makers, because they sum up the research evidence on a specific question about the effectiveness of a healthcare treatment or test. 

Since 2005 Cochrane Canada has been funded primarily by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) ($9.6 million over five years) and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care ($1.25 million).  

As you see Ontario has had a part to play in funding Cochrane, and in view of the fact that Cochrane Canada has trained almost 3,000 people in Canada to do systematic reviews, and has held 181 knowledge translation workshops & presentations, they are a mostly untapped resource to help facilitate the transformation of consumers to engaged patients.

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins made this point in his "Patients First: Action Plan for Healthcare" in February this year: 

"Inform: Support people and patients – providing the education, information and transparency they need to make the right decisions about their health."

What better support for patients (the blockbuster drug of this century) than Cochrane reviews and workshops which are part of the foundation of evidence based medicine?

I am hoping that as part of the effort to keep Cochrane Canada here the Provincial Governments would help with funding. Hopefully after the next election we can look for all-party collaboration federally to keep this valuable resource in our country. 

Decision making is getting more and more complicated - we need all the help we can get to make better sense out of it, so it would be a sad loss to the international community of support and to Canada if our country no longer supported Cochrane.

If everyone wrote to their provincial and federal representatives and candidates that would help to get funding for Cochrane back on the radar.

We could also tweet and email our provincial Ministers of Health, and start talking to all of our candidates running in the upcoming federal election.