Cochrane @ PubMed Health: another audience for reviews

PubMed Health is a US National of Library of Medicine (NLM) resource to make systematic reviews of clinical effectiveness easier to find and use. Visit it at and follow developments on Twitter @PubMedHealth or Google+.

A comprehensive collection of systematic reviews and their knowledge translation versions in one place: that’s the basic premise of PubMed Health. The website integrates DARE (Database of Reviews of Effects), Cochrane Reviews and systematic reviews published directly by health technology assessment agencies.

With almost 20,000 systematic reviews from the last 10 years now in the collection, this goal is close to being reached. Testing and improving the quality and comprehensiveness of PubMed Health searches for systematic reviews will be critical to further development.

What’s happening with Cochrane Reviews at PubMed Health? The plain language summaries (PLS) and abstracts are included, along with links to the review onTheCochrane Libraryand data such as when the review was last assessed as up-to-date. The plain language summary is the featured section, and it is what appears in the search results. This means that the content, readability and relevance of the PLS title may determine whether people click on a review.

Cochrane Reviews are about a quarter of those in the collection, and so are gaining a further audience as NLM provides greater accessibility. PubMed Health is an entry point for the general public looking for basic health information on the internet. We are trying, in various ways, to draw people’s attention to clinical effectiveness resources, including the summaries of systematic reviews and books and articles on understanding research.

For example, people clicking on encyclopedia information will see displays linking to relevant “knowledge translation” information, such as Cochrane plain language summaries. A small feature called “Learn About” appears frequently alongside information, highlighting books like Testing Treatments or articles on topics like understanding the science of screening.

You can reach PubMed Health directly, or by using the dropdown box next to PubMed’s search. Much of the information being gathered into PubMed Health is being fed into PubMed. And providing PubMed users with improved access to systematic reviews is another way to expand the reach of systematic reviews.

Working with Cochrane to ensure that Cochrane Reviews come up higher in results and are not disregarded as out of date because of unreported updates is an example of what can be done to increase the visibility of Cochrane Reviews[1]. Expect to see more happening at both PubMed Health and PubMed in coming months as the resource grows and develops.

There are thousands of direct visits toTheCochrane Libraryevery day – a great indicator of how motivated people are to find reliable information. Still, most people who see Cochrane Reviews land on them via PubMed or Medline.

Every day, PubMed gets hundreds of thousands of searches for health research. Many additional people come to PubMed Health from Google looking for basic health information. Focusing more of their attention on systematic reviews is a challenge. But it’s one with great potential.

You can read more about PubMed Health and its development here

Hilda Bastian is a long-time contributor to The Cochrane Collaboration and currently works at the US National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Institutes of Health. She is responsible for the development of PubMed Health.