Cochrane Library- Finding Systematic Reviews

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The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is the leading resource for high-quality systematic reviews in healthcare.

We will access the CDSR using the Cochrane Library, an aggregate resource of 6 different Cochrane databases.

A Systematic Review is “a review of the evidence on a clearly formulated question that uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select and critically appraise relevant primary research, and to extract and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review.”

From Systematic Reviews: CRD’s guidance for undertaking reviews in health care.

In other words, a systematic review is a type of literature review that “sums up the best available research on a specific question… by synthesizing the results of several studies."

From What is a Systematic Review?


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Anyone can create a systematic review, but not all are created equal. You can find systematic reviews in a variety of databases. However, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is an excellent, go-to resource for high quality systematic reviews.

The Cochrane Group is a network of health professionals and researchers who produce credible and reliable reviews and protocols. Cochrane is well respected in the healthcare field as the leaders in systematic reviews.

The CDSR contains all Cochrane Reviews created by the Cochrane Group.

A Cochrane Review is “a peer-reviewed systematic review that has been prepared and supervised by a Cochrane Review Group (editorial team), according to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.

From About the Cochrane Library,

Searching for Cochrane Reviews

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Access the Cochrane Library from the UNTHSC Lewis Library home page.

Locate the Find tab on the top left-hand corner of your screen. Under “Select a database,” select “Cochrane Library” and hit Go.

If you are accessing library resources from an off-campus computer, you will be asked to sign in with your EUID and password.

Searching for Cochrane Reviews

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You are now on the Cochrane Library home page.

To search for Cochrane systematic reviews, select “Advanced Search” underneath the search box on the top right hand corner of the screen.

**Note** You can also browse Cochrane Reviews by topic. From the purple menu bar at the top of the screen, select “Cochrane Reviews” and then “Browse by topic.”

You should now be looking at the Cochrane Library Advanced Search screen.

Searching for Cochrane Reviews

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By default, the Advanced Search option will search all 6 Cochrane databases. Let’s limit our search so that we’re only looking at Cochrane Reviews.

Under the drop down menu on the left hand side of the screen, select the “Search Limits” link.

Under “Database,” select “Cochrane Review.”

If you wanted to, you could apply additional search limits, including publication years and other document types. For now, we are only going to limit our search to Cochrane Reviews.

Apply the search limit to your search by selecting the blue “Apply” button.

You should now see the following beneath your search box:

In Cochrane Reviews (Reviews and Protocols) (Word variations have been searched)

Searching for Cochrane Reviews

4 of 5Let’s say you’re interested in reviews regarding Bell’s palsy. Type “Bell’s palsy” into the search box and hit Go.

Your search results should appear at the bottom of the page. You should see 7 results from 9,504 records. 9,504 is the total number of records in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews that are being searched.

You might think that this seems like a low number of entries in a database, and you’d be right. Since Cochrane reviews are so specialized and time consuming, there are fewer of them to search and you’ll most likely always see fewer search results than in other, larger databases (such as PubMed).

Searching for Cochrane Reviews

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Locate the multi-colored status labels on the left-hand side of the search results screen.

Cochrane reviews are tagged with status and review type labels to give you more information about them, such as if they were recently updated or if there was a major change to the study. In some instances, editorial teams will go back and update the review based on new literature in the field. Those changes would be reflected in the status labels.

Roll your mouse over each status tag to read a brief description about what they mean.

Notice that you can save and export the entire search result list to a citation manager of your choice.

Viewing a Cochrane Review

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Select the Cochrane review “Antiviral treatment for Bell’s palsy (idiopathic facial paralysis).”

You are now on the article view page for this Cochrane Review.

Underneath the title, you should see several status tags giving you further information about this review. For instance, it appears that this review was updated by the editorial team, which led to a conclusion change, and that this review discusses an intervention.

Scroll through the article view page to view a summary of the Cochrane Review. Navigate to different sections of the review using the menu on the right-hand side of the screen.

Viewing a Cochrane Review

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Cochrane reviews are generally lengthy and detailed, and the summary view you see here is not the complete version of the review. Select the PDF icon on the left-hand side of the screen to download a PDF of the full version, or a summary or standard view.

On that same menu, click the Figures icon to view a summary of figures in this review. You can also do the same with the Tables icon.

If you are using a citation manage such as EndNote or RefWorks and would like to save the citation for this article, select “View/save citation” next to the DOI number.


1 of 2Congratulations, you now know how to use the Cochrane library to find high quality systematic reviews!

Remember, Cochrane is not the only organization that creates systematic reviews, and you can use other databases to find more reviews by different authors.

When doing a literature review, it is always a good idea to check multiple databases to find all relevant articles in your area of interest.


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Please contact the Library Research Services Office if you have any questions about this guide or finding systematic reviews.

We are available M-F from 8am to 5pm at:

(817) 735-2388


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