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Improving the efficiency of updating Cochrane Reviews: a joint pilot project of the McMaster PLUS database team and the Musculoskeletal Review Group

Date and Location




Friday 20 September 2013 - 15:30 - 17:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Jordi Pardo Pardo

Contact person

Alfonso Iorio
Abstract text
Background: Reviews updating is a primary goal for the Collaboration, yet a common challenge for most Groups due to the workload associated with identifying new relevant content. There is currently no systematic mechanism for efficiently managing the update process without periodically repeating a full-gauge literature search. Objectives: To create a service that detects clinically relevant new studies likely to prompt review updates and that includes features to assist editors and authors with the task of organizing those references to streamline the update process. Methods: We used the continuously updated McMaster Plus database to feed a service aimed at efficient and timely management of new trials published in top journals topical to the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Review Group (CMSG). The studies are indexed according to clinical topics, and made available to the editorial team on a dedicated software platform for manual assignment to individual reviews. The assignment in turn triggers automatic alerts to the reviews’ corresponding authors. Authors are offered a simple management tool to help decide on subsequent actions regarding the alerted study, e.g. filing for inclusion in the update, linking it with the review until incorporated into the update, as well as providing feed-back regarding any article’s non-appropriateness. Results: The system has been piloted with CMSG. Between 7-15 new studies per topic were identified on a weekly basis, half of which were assigned to reviews. Analysis of whether matched studies trigger an update is underway. As well, highly relevant articles not filed to existing reviews are being logged and may serve to suggest new titles for the CMSG group. Conclusions: Ease of use and efficiency are being tested in the pilot toward the timely identification of reviews in need of an update, as well as the prompting of topics not covered by the current CRG knowledge base.