Unlocking Healthcare Insights

Trying to make sense of medical research terminology can sometimes feel like decoding a secret language.

While Cochrane authors do a great job when writing plain language summaries for their reviews, we recognize that curiosity about certain terms and practices in Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) may not be totally satisfied.

That is why we have created these informational cards, aimed at empowering health consumers with a deeper understanding, ensuring that everyone can engage with healthcare information more confidently.

If you want to know more, go to Cochrane Evidence Essential, Cochrane's comprehensive free online resources offering an introduction to health evidence.

Bias in Evidence Synthesis

Bias can undermine the validity and reliability of study findings, leading to incorrect conclusions about the effectiveness or safety of interventions. It can affect clinical decision-making, policy development, and patient care by influencing treatment guidelines and recommendations.

Boutron I, Page MJ, Higgins JPT, Altman DG, Lundh A, Hróbjartsson A. Chapter 7: Considering bias and conflicts of interest among the included studies. Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.4 (updated August 2023). Available from www.training.cochrane.org/handbook.
Page MJ, Higgins J, Sambunjak D, Cumpston M, Watts C. Module 5: Introduction to study quality and risk of bias. Cochrane Interactive Learning: Conducting an intervention review. Cochrane, 2017. Available from https://training.cochrane.org/interactivelearning/module-5-introduction-study-quality-and-risk-bias.

Core Outcome Set

A Core Outcome Set (COS) in research refers to a standardized list of outcomes that that researchers should measure and report in all studies about a specific condition or treatment.

This helps ensure that research results are consistent and meaningful for patients, health professionals, and any other involved in the health decision-making process.

Evidence Based Medicine (EBM)

Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) embodies the seamless integration of clinical judgment, relevant scientific evidence, and respect for patients' values and preferences. Imagine your healthcare tailored with precision, combining the practitioner's experience, the latest research findings, and your unique preferences for a personalized treatment approach.

Evidence-Synthesis Protocol

Developing a systematic review begins with crafting a detailed protocol - a blueprint that outlines the entire research process. Protocols are fundamental in evidence synthesis methodology because they establish clear research questions, eligibility criteria, and methods for data collection and analysis. By setting these criteria upfront, protocols ensure transparency, reduce bias, and enhance the reproducibility of systematic reviews.

Network Meta-analysis

Network Meta-analysis (NMAs) enable a comprehensive comparison of various therapeutic options, focusing on their relative efficacy and safety.

By synthesizing data from different studies, NMAs empower clinicians and policymakers with valuable insights for informed decision-making. However, to achieve this level of evidence, doing a NMA requires some assumptions to be satisfied, and a lot of effort and resources.

Patient-Reported Outcomes

Patient-Reported Outcomes (PROs) offer a direct perspective from patients about their health conditions, significantly enhancing the understanding of treatment impacts on their daily lives. PROs are fundamental for informed clinical decision-making and patient-centered care, capturing aspects without the additional interpretation of clinicians or caregivers.

Johnston BC, Patrick DL, Devji T, Maxwell LJ, Bingham III CO, Beaton D, Boers M, Briel M, Busse JW, Carrasco-Labra A, Christensen R, da Costa BR, El Dib R, Lyddiatt A, Ostelo RW, Shea B, Singh J, Terwee CB, Williamson PR, Gagnier JJ, Tugwell P, Guyatt GH. Chapter 18: Patient-reported outcomes. In: Higgins JPT, Thomas J, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.4 (updated August 2023). Cochrane, 2023. Available from www.training.cochrane.org/handbook.

Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs)

Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) are the gold standard in medical research, providing crucial insights into the effectiveness and safety of new treatments. Their design helps eliminate bias and ensures that any observed effects are due to the treatment itself rather than other factors, like context or individual differences.

RCTs play a vital role in advancing medical knowledge, guiding clinical practice, and ultimately improving patient outcomes.

Research Priority Setting

Developing a Research Priority Setting (RPS) involves identifying which areas of research are most important for improving our understanding of a disease or condition. Experts, patients, and other stakeholders work together to identify these priorities based on what is most urgently needed.

There is no clear definition of RPS, and its purpose can vary a lot. Overall, RPSs efforts are fundamental to reduce research waste.