Evidence-based health care decision making with Cochrane Library

by Linda Yang on 2022-03-08T08:30:00-04:00 | Comments

The Cochrane Library is a collection of three databases and three featured-content collections that you can search simultaneously for evidence-based medical information.


  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR)
  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL)
  • Cochrane Clinical Answers (CCAs)

Content Collections

  • Special Collections
  • Search content hosted by Epistemonikos
  • Search content hosted by McMaster Health Forum

To search all databases and collections, type your search term(s) (for example, “COVID-19”) into the search box in the upper right-hand corner (1) of the home page, and click on the icon (2) or hit Enter. The results will be organized in tabs by database or type of evidence: systematic reviews, trials, etc.


Database Features

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is the leading journal and database of systematic reviews in health care. It includes systematic reviews (1), as well as protocols (2), editorials (3), and supplements.

  1. Systematic reviews attempt to answer a carefully formulated research question according to pre-specified eligibility criteria by identifying, appraising, and synthesizing all available evidence. By synthesizing all of the available evidence, they provide a higher level of evidence compared with individual randomized controlled trials.
  2. Protocols describe the proposed approach for conducting a systematic review. They include the research question of interest, and act as a public record of how review authors intend to answer the question.
  3. Editorials analyze evidence in an attempt to stimulate discussion and promote good decision making in clinical care and health policy.


Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL)

CENTRAL, found on the tab marked Trials (A), is the world’s largest database for reports of randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials. Records on CENTRAL are retrieved from PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, ClinicalTrials.gov, and the World Health Organization’s International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP). They include the title of the article, publication information, and often the abstract (not the full text).


Cochrane Clinical Answers

Cochrane Clinical Answers (CCAs) (B) summarize the results of a Cochrane Review in a short, easy-to-read, question and answer format. Since CCAs are written by clinicians for clinicians, the information of greatest interest to clinicians is made more accessible, with the aim of informing health care decisions.


Language Settings and More

Users can view translated Cochrane Review sections in one of sixteen languages and have the option to view the entire website in English or Spanish. Click on the language button (C) on the upper right-hand corner of the home page to view language options.

For help using Advanced Search or other features, click on the Help (D) tab on the right-hand side of the home page menu, then click on Cochrane Library Training (E).


Access to Cochrane Library is available to all Nova Scotians

Patients and community members within Nova Scotia have full access to the Cochrane Library. Access is available through their local Nova Scotia Public Library, or via this link. They can access articles, including abstracts, and easy-to-read plain language summaries.

If you have any additional questions about the Cochrane library, we would be happy to assist you with your information needs. Book a consultation or connect with us at AskLibrary@nshealth.ca any time!

Linda Yang

Librarian Educator

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