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Cohrane review journals are a new departure in the Cochrane armoury. They are intended to address the most frequently heard practical criticisms of the Library: that the reviews are too lengthy, difficult to read, disparate, and disjointed within a subject, and they fail to set the clinical context of their evaluations. However, it must be said that these are also strengths—they are detailed and rich, highly specific and focused, and do not attempt to “spin” the data with practical clinical queries. The editors state they wish the information in the Journal to be readable by everyone—consumers, physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals—and help people understand systematic reviews a little more fully.
Does it achieve these lofty aims of access for all? Is it the way for a clinician to access the Cochrane library? Where does it fit with the explosion of evidence-digest material?
Well, it goes someway to being readable by the general public but remains accessible mainly to those with a high school education or more. In terms of its clinical readership, it’s a longer (more words), more specific (just children), and electronic-only version of the Evidence-Based Medicine journal.
It is certainly not a replacement to the Library for the practising clinician. (It’s only 2 issues long and covers only 12 topics.) Over time it may well grow to be a “coffee break” resource—just too thick for use in your consultation but not so heavy you actually need to be in library mode to use it.
It is great to add to the (rather short) list of “push” information sources ideal for those with an interest in health care for children. It appears to be an online only resource, so isn’t ideal to be read over cornflakes. If I had to choose between Cochrane’s Evidence-Based Child Health and the EBM journal, I would go for the latter, because of its breadth and better accessibility, but I’ll certainly be signing up to receive the table of contents by email for each new issue of Evidence-Based Child Health.
Clinical usefulness ★★★☆☆ (but potentially rising)