The Cochrane Collaboration

The Cochrane Collaboration 

The Cochrane Collaboration is a unique, independent, not-for-profit, charitable, international organisation that is named after Archie Cochrane (1909-1988), a British epidemiologist, who advocated the use of reliable evidence from randomised controlled trials in informing decisions about healthcare.

Cochrane’s global network consists of over 31,000 people from over 120 countries who collaborate to promote evidence-informed health decision-making.

Cochrane’s core activity is to produce, and promote access to, credible, up-to date, relevant, synthesized research evidence that can help people make decisions about their health or the health of others. Cochrane Systematic Reviews are used by health professionals, health policy makers, patients and other health consumers and their advocates, journalists, and members of the lay public. 

Cochrane Reviews are widely considered to provide the gold standard for health evidence. These reviews are published online in The Cochrane Library, an online collection of six evidence-based databases.

One of them is the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews that has a collection of over 5800 Cochrane Systematic Reviews, and many more protocols of reviews under preparation.

Another important resource is the Cochrane Central  Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) that contains the world's single largest collection of citations and other details of controlled clinical trials that are contributed by Cochrane Groups worldwide. 

In tune with its mission to promote access to reliable evidence to inform health decisions, Cochrane has worked with its publishers, John Wiley & Sons, and its global partners to ensure wide access to  The Cochrane Library. This valuable resource for health research evidence is now freely available to more than half of the people around the world to access and to use.

The Credibility of Cochrane Evidence

The reason why Cochrane Reviews are trusted stems from:

The systematic, transparent, and stringent scientific methods that are used in preparing systematic reviews

Cochrane’s global network of contributors, many of whom are world leaders in their chosen field and work in the some of the world’s leading institutions, have pioneered many of the methods that are used to synthesize research evidence

Independence from conflicted sources of funding.

In order to ensure that the evidence in Cochrane Reviews is not influenced by those with a vested interest in their results, Cochrane's foundational principles, and Cochrane's policies, do not permit funding by the drug and medical device industries, or other conflicted sources, for all Cochrane activities.

Cochrane is funded largely by royalties from the sales of The Cochrane Library. This is used to develop the technology and to refine the methods needed to advance its work. Cochrane also invests in building human capital in the form of training and mentoring authors of reviews, information specialists, methods experts, communication specialists and others; and in building organizational capacity.

Most of Cochrane’s contributors are volunteers who generously donate their time and skills to further Cochrane’s mission and vision. They are funded by a variety of sources including governments, universities, hospital trusts, charities and personal donations.

Cochrane's global reach and success

Cochrane owes its global reach, and success as a reputed organisation trusted ofr providing credible health research evidence, largely to:

Its organisational structure 

Cochrane's international network of skilled and dedicated contributors from around the world collaborate to further Cochrane's mission and vision. Their collaborative actions are facilitated by 14 Centres, 19 Branches, 16 Methods Groups, 11 Fields and Networks, and 53 Review Groups. They are aided by a Central Executive, an elected Steering Group, an Editor-in Chief, and a Chief Executive Officer

Its foundational principles

Cochrane's 10 principles that have guided the work and aspirations of its contributors include:

  • Fostering global collaboration and transparency in communication and decision-making;
  • Enabling people from all walks of life, and from all backgrounds, and from every part of the world to participate in, and contribute to,  its activities; and
  • Proactively seeking out, involving, supporting and training people of different skills and backgrounds; and working toward removing the barriers to their participation.

Cochrane's ideology

  • Inspires people from all walks of life to align themselves to its goals; and

The generosity and altruism of its contributors

  • Motivates people from all walks of life to align themselves to its ideology

In January 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) awarded the Collaboration a seat on the World Health Assembly. This recognition as a Non-Governmental Organization, in official relations with the WHO, has established a formal partnership, giving Cochrane the opportunity to provide input on WHO health resolutions.

In 2013 Cochrane celebrated 20 years of working together to improve health for people everywhere. As we embark on the 21st year of Cochrane's existence, the Colloquium at Hyderabad offers us an opportune moment to reflect on how Cochrane can better serve the needs of low-and middle-income countries, while meeting the numerous challenges it faces in achieving its stated goals of:

  • Producing high-quality relevant, up-to-date systematic reviews and other synthesized research evidence to inform health decision-making;
  • Making Cochrane evidence accessible and useful to everybody, everywhere in the world; and
  • Building an effective and sustainable organization.

For more information on how you can get involved: click here.

For information on how you can support our work: click here

To view the history of The Cochrane Collaboration over the past 20 years: click here

The South Asian Network & Centre

The South Asian Cochrane Network, was established in January of 2004, as a Branch of the Australasian Cochrane Centre, with geographical responsibility for the countries in South Asia, as defined by membership to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation- SAARC (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the Maldives and Nepal). With a combined population of almost 1.5 billion people, SAARC is the largest regional organization in the world.

In July 2008, this Branch was re-designated as the South Asian Cochrane Network & Centre (SASIANCC)-one of Cochrane's 14 independent centres world-wide.

The South Asian Cochrane Centre is hosted by the Prof BV Moses Centre for Evidence-Informed Health Care and Health Policy at the Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, in the state of Tamil Nadu, in south India. 

CMC Vellore is an internationally reputed, not-for profit, charitable institution that provides high quality under-graduate and post-graduate education in medicine, nursing, and allied health sciences, and primary, secondary, and tertiary care to people from all over India and other countries in South Asia, The South Asian Cochrane Centre is directed by Professor Prathap Tharyan, from the Department of Psychiatry, CMC Vellore, and an editor with the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group. The Centre employs full-time research staff that are funded by its project activities (particularly the Effective Health Care Research Consortium), while CMC Vellore provides infrastruture and logistic support. The Christian Medical College has authorised the SASIANCC to organise the 22nd Cochrane Colloquium at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC). This approval was granted by the competent committee comprising the Administratvie Officers, on 27th February 2013 through AC minute No. 19-a. 

The activities of the South Asian Cochrane Centre are facilitated by Network sites in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, and by many contributors from the countries in the region. There is increasing interest in Cochrane from people in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and the Maldives. 

The Network Site at the Manipal University, led by Sreekumaran Nair, hosts The Cochrane Public Health Satellite for South Asia (PHESA)

Network site coordinators contribute to network activities by training as well as producing, and disseminating evidence from systematic reviews. 

Facilitating universal access to The Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library is free to access to anyone in India, thanks to a national subscription purchased on behalf of all Indians by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The SASIANCC is grateful to the ICMR for this example of responsible leadership in health governance, considering the numerous challenges India faces as a lower-middle-income country in allocating resources to meet its responsibilities as an emerging economy, and as a responsible partner to the wider global community. Since 2007, anyone with access to a computer and the internet with an Indian IP address, has had free, one-click access to the full contents of this valuable resource. 

Most countries in the South Asian Region also have free access to the contents of The Cochrane Library through various international funding initiatives.