Letters

Quality of Cochrane reviews

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7336.545/a (Published 02 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:545

Quality of Cochrane reviews is better than that of non-Cochrane reviews

  1. Mark Petticrew, associate director ([email protected]),
  2. Paul Wilson, research fellow,
  3. Kath Wright, information scientist,
  4. Fujian Song, senior research fellow
  1. MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8RZ
  2. NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York, York YO10 5DD
  3. Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT
  4. Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Clinical Research Unit, Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital, Edinburgh EH10 7ED
  5. East Riding and Hull Health Authority, Willerby, East Yorkshire HU10 6DT

    EDITOR—Olsen et al assessed a sample of Cochrane reviews from 1998 and highlighted some areas where improvement is possible.1 They found that 29% of reviews had major problems, including inappropriate methods and conclusions. As they say, improvement is still possible, but this figure nevertheless represents a major improvement on the quality of non-Cochrane reviews.

    We have reviewed the methods of 480 systematic reviews on the database of abstracts of reviews of effectiveness (DARE) at the University of York.2 3 Methodological details of the reviews were coded and checked by two reviewers working independently. We found that only half (52%) of the reviews had systematically assessed the validity of the included studies; that most systematic reviews were unlikely to be comprehensive (they had searched either one or two databases); and that overall only a quarter (26%) of reviews met three key methodological criteria (relating to a thorough …

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