Wednesday Explorations: The Cochrane Journal Club 

It feels appropriate at the start of a new year to introduce a new series of posts, Wednesday Explorations. Towards the end of last year I introduced the EPIC framework for emergent health researchers And have since been exploring the different components within the framework. The first component was Explore highlighting the importance of increasing our knowledge and understanding of the research community in all of its different facets, opportunities and resources outside of formal academic study for personal development and ways of developing and extending personal networks.

Having talked about the importance of exploring I thought it might be fun to go on a journey of exploration over the coming year so each Wednesday I will post a short blog about something I have discovered during my explorations which might be of interest to others.

Journies are much more fun when taken together so why not join in. If you have discovered or developed a resource that you feel will be of interest to others why not share it? The only criteria is that it should be of interest/relevance to healthcare professionals interested in promoting, conducting or using research and accessible to everyone. It could be, for example, an organisation or network you are a member of, a blog that you follow or a learning resource you have used. I would love to follow in the footsteps of your explorations as a way of extending my travels. What better way to start the New Year than on a journey of discovery?

So here goes………

1. The Cochrane Journal Club. 

If you run or are thinking about setting up a journal club this is a resource that you simply must explore. My memories of the first journal clubs I attended as a clinician were of being part of a group of people who were enthusiastic about research but had limited research experience. We were good at selecting relevant papers and engaging with the introduction and rationale for the study,  but then things got a bit wobbly.

Understanding the study design and methods was manageable but critiquing was a bit more troublesome due to our limited knowledge of other possibilities. Understanding and critiquing the approach to data analysis, especially if it was statistical,  was where the wheels began to fall off along with understanding some of the more complex statistical results. Everyone breathed more easily when we got to the discussion. It would be brilliant if every clinical journal club had access to someone with research experience to lead the discussion but this is not always possible and many healthcare professionals need to rely on the knowledge within the team.

This is where the Cochrane journal club, which is part of the Cochrane library, may help you to run a better quality journal club and also support the implementation of evidence informed practice in your team.

There are currently 58 Cochrane reviews available in the journal club series which have been selected from the Cochrane library to highlight, ‘practice changing findings, controversial conclusions, new methodologies, evidence based methods and reviews from diverse health and social care topics.‘ Examples include

  • Music interventions for mechanically ventilated patients
  • Community wide interventions for increasing physical activity
  • Exercise programmes for people with dementia
  • Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community
  • Interventions for preventing obesity in children
  • Exercise interventions on health related quality of life for cancer survivors
  • Cognitive reframing for carers of people with dementia.

As you can see the topics are quite diverse. For each topic a range of multi-media support material has been developed including:

  • A PDF of the review which is free to download
  • PowerPoint slides of the key tables
  • Podcast by the lead author to explain key points of the review
  • A list of discussion questions
  • A clinical vignette which outlines a scenario and then asks you, based on the findings of the review, how you would respond
  • Multiple choice questions
  • Links to other related resources

You can access individual topics and also sign up as a member of the journal club which means that you will receive an alert every time a new topics is made available.

So if you are unfamiliar with the Cochrane Journal club next time you have a few minutes grab a coffee/tea and go on an adventure. You may find buried treasure.

PS. Sorry if formatting is a bit awry this week no broadband connection at the moment so publishing via my iPad which is a bit different.

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