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The UK Cochrane Centre and the NHS Centre For Reviews And Dissemination: Their Respective Roles

Dr Chris Hyde, The UK Cochrane Centre

The following summarises an article published in 1994 [1].

Background:

  • The UK Cochrane Centre and the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination are both part of the Information Systems Strategy of the NHS Research and Development Programme.
  • The third element of this strategy is an NHS Projects Registers System.

The UK Cochrane Centre and its role:

  • Established at the end of 1992 in Oxford.
  • In addition to its place in the NHS, is part of an international collaboration - The Cochrane Collaboration.
  • Is one of nine centres established world-wide, within the Cochrane Collaboration.
  • Specific role: "To collaborate with others to build, maintain and disseminate a database of systematic, up-to-date reviews of randomized controlled trials of health care."
  • This role holds within both the NHS Information Systems Strategy and the Cochrane Collaboration.
  • The database produced is called The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

The NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination and its role:

  • Established at the end of 1993 in the University of York.
  • Has two roles within the NHS, the first relating to reviews and the second to dissemination.
  • The Centre "proactively commissions or itself carries out reviews on behalf of the NHS". The reviews "focus on specific questions of importance to the NHS, principally in areas of effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of health care interventions, management and organisation of health services".
  • The Centre "disseminate(s) the results of research to the NHS in order to enhance effective decision making". In this respect the Centre will "develop and maintain databases of published reviews and studies reporting economic evaluation of health care and will develop an enquiry service for handling appropriately filtered requests for information on the availability of reviews." The Centre will in addition "assist the Cochrane Collaboration to disseminate the contents of The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews to the NHS".

Summary:

  • There are substantial areas of common interest between the UK Cochrane Centre and the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. Commensurate with this both organisations are committed to collaborate closely and avoid unintended duplication.
  • In this context, the difference in emphasis of the roles of the two centres in the NHS may be summarised as:
REVIEWS : The UK Cochrane Centre facilitates individuals to undertake and maintain systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials in response to the interest expressed by those individuals, whereas the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination commissions individuals to undertake systematic reviews of research evidence in response to questions of current importance to the NHS. Thus the main differences lie in the starting point for, and the long-term commitment to maintain the review, not the rigour of the review's method.

DISSEMINATION : Only the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination will have the capacity to respond to requests from individuals in the NHS about the availability of reviews of research. Despite this, both centres are committed to the effective dissemination of the information they produce, within the constraints of the resources with which they are provided. The UK Cochrane Centre is committed to work with others to disseminate The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and to make this database as accessible as possible. The NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination will take a more direct and active role in the dissemination to the NHS of key messages arising from particular systematic reviews.

Reference:

  1. Sheldon T, Chalmers I. The UK Cochrane Centre and the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination: respective roles within the Information Systems Strategy of the NHS R&D Programme, coordination and principles underlying collaboration. Health Economics 1994; 3 :201-203.



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