Making a list. It’s Evidently Advent

#EvidentlyAdvent returns with a focus on priorities. Making lists and deciding on ‘must-haves’ are not just for Christmas.

It’s that time of year again, when we’re bombarded with lists. Christmas lists, shopping lists, ‘to-do’ lists, top 10 lists and lists of ‘must have’ items. ‘Must-have’ toys this year include a plastic caterpillar that will respond according to the arrangement of its movable segments; ‘must-have’ coding training for pre-schoolers! Then there’s the pink (of course) 3-storey dolls house with a working lift but no stairs, a tv, swing chair and spa, which might be a must-have lesson in the underlying causes of the obesity crisis as well as in gender stereotypes.

Christmas tree lights

We have to untangle our priorities and put them in order

As children (and adults) are busy writing their wish lists and there’s pressure to spend, spend, spend, priorities must be established. I’m writing this on ‘Black Friday’, which has become the start of a four day frenzy of spending. But I’m happy to see that there is a growing swell of reminders that we might want to hold back and take stock of our priorities, like the #JustFriday campaign that encourages people to buy their gifts mindfully and ethically. With our time and resources limited, decisions have to be made about how best to use them. We need to work out what’s most important.

The same is true in research and healthcare of course. In Cochrane, there is an ongoing project to identify which reviews are likely to be most important to our stakeholders and make a significant impact on health outcomes worldwide. The Cochrane Priority Reviews List is a ‘living’ record of this attempt, updated in real time and a new version published on every two months.

So this year, for #EvidentlyAdvent, we’re going to share (let’s make it a list):

  1. 24 priority Cochrane reviews. We’ll be sharing these in blogshots and also our new vlogshots!
  2. 7 presents. Well, I use the term ‘presents’ a bit loosely, but we’re going to share some resources that are on our favourites list. We’ll post them below as we add them.
  3. Cochrane UK staff science-y book choices.
  4. Martin Burton’s unicorn (if we can find her). If you’re mystified, read his blog here!
  5. Some favourites from the #EvidentlyAdvent archive.

Got a present for us?

Has a Cochrane review influenced your practice? We’d love to hear about it! Do tweet us @CochraneUK or leave a comment below this blog. Check out our symposium 2017 competitions too, for health professionals and students.

These lists will grow through Advent…

This Advent, we're sharing 7 of our favourite resources

This Advent, we’re sharing 7 of our favourite resources

7 of our favourite resources

  1. Testing Treatments interactive. Let’s get critical! This excellent site provides open access resources to help promote critical thinking about the treatment claims that people encounter.
  2. We Communities We really enjoy working and chatting with the fab folk of the We Communities. If you are a health professional and haven’t found your community there yet, then now is a very good time!
  3. James Lind Alliance (JLA) and James Lind Library. We were a bit sneaky having two for the price of one, but we couldn’t resist! Find out more about how the JLA brings people together to establish the top unanswered questions for health researchers to tackle, and discover all sorts of fascinating things in the James Lind Library from hundred of years of testing treatments.
  4. Understanding Uncertainty. Great site from the University of Cambridge with blogs, videos, articles and more helping us get a better understanding of uncertainty and risk.
  5. Students 4 Best Evidence.This global community of students who are interested in evidence-based healthcare is hosted here at Cochrane UK. Blogs are written by and for students, on the latest research and on concepts underpinning evidence-based healthcare.
  6. NIHR Signals. Short summaries of recent research (we like this kind of thing!).
  7. National Elf Service Elves aren’t just for Christmas you know! The National Elf service can help you keep up to date with the latest health and social care research, connect you with others in your field of interest and help with your continuing professional development. If you’ve not discovered them yet then now’s the time!

Cochrane staff are reading…

richard lehman

Richard’s cheering up with ‘Good Pharma’ (and cheering us up with his jumper!)

Good Pharma

by Donald Light and Antonio Maturo

“I spend so much of my time dwelling on the shortcomings of current drug development that I thought I would try and cheer myself up this Christmas with a book that offers a new model. So I’m looking forward to reading Good Pharma by Donald Light and Antonio Maturo. Maybe the world will become sane again sooner than we think, and drugs will be designed to meet the real needs of people in the future.”

Richard Lehman, Senior Fellow in General Practice

Testing Treatments

by Imogen Evans, Hazel Thornton, Iain Chalmers and Paul Glasziou

Selena Ryan-Vig

Selena thinks ‘Testing Treatments’ should be in everyone’s Christmas stocking!

“I feel that everyone should have to read this book (and I’m not just saying that because we share an office floor with one its authors, Iain Chalmers!) We’re all exposed to numerous claims about treatments everyday, and everyday we have to make decisions about our health.  This book guides us through some of the important questions that we all should be asking when faced with these claims and decisions. How do we know a treatment is effective and safe, and how reliable is the evidence?

This book challenges many preconceptions about health and healthcare (for example, that earlier detection and treatment of disease is not necessarily better). The authors’ ability to explain quite complex issues in a simple, accessible and engaging way is a large part of this book’s appeal. I highly recommend it. Also, students at Students 4 Best Evidence (S4BE) are busy writing blogs that relate to many of the themes in this book. They’ll be published on the S4BE website in 2017, so look out for them.”

Selena Ryan-Vig, Knowledge and Engagement Officer. Selena’s work with Cochrane UK includes facilitating the S4BE site.


Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Lynda with 'Flatland'

If Lynda’s physics teacher is reading this – look how much she enjoyed ‘Flatland’!

by Edwin A. Abbott (1838-1926)

“My copy of this book is over forty years old. I first read it on the recommendation of my 6th Form physics teacher. It is an exploration of dimension from the perspective of an inhabitant of Flatland, a world in two dimensions only. It is also a social commentary on Victorian society. A joy to read – a real flight of imagination.”
Lynda Ware, Senior Fellow in General Practice

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Therese Advent

Therese is inspired by Atul Gawande on living and dying well.

by Atul Gawande

“Being mortal by Atul Gwande is an inspired book exploring the challenges of  living well in elderly care and dying well with the support of palliative care.  The book examines our perceptions of what might be important to those receiving care, through thought provoking stories and examples of alternative approaches to supporting people through periods of their life and death.   Being Mortal is a must read for those of us considering getting old and provides poignant insight for anyone with experience of a caring role.”
Therese Doherty, Business and Programme Manager

Books? So last century…

Jack Leahy

Get online; read and follow people you don’t necessarily agree with, says Jack

As Communications and Engagement officer for Cochrane UK, I am foregoing the anachronistic format of a book and recommending that you all log on to the world wide web! The range of diverse voices online is fantastic at keeping us informed on the rapid developments and conversations taking place in health care and science generally. Be careful to avoid contracting an echo chamber around yourself; read and follow people that you don’t necessarily agree with. Disagreement and rigorous discussion are key to increasing our understanding. To start things off, I recommend following @tlassers @juliaoftoronto @agencyynurse @d_spiegel on Twitter!

Jack Leahy, Communications and Engagement Officer

Faithful to Science 

by Andrew Steane

Anne enjoys physicist Andrew Steane’s theistic perspective on science

“In Advent, a season of wonder and excited anticipation, I like to take time to reflect with thanksgiving on the wonder of scientific discovery from the perspective of faith. In ‘Faithful to Science’ Andrew Steane, Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, offers a carefully considered, engaging insight in how science and faith link together productively and creatively within the broader human search for wisdom and lives lived well. He writes with clarity from a position of full commitment to both science and Christian faith.”

Anne Eisinga, Information Specialist


The book is back in the library so here I am with my library card!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot

“As a keen borrower from public libraries, I don’t have a copy of this in my possession, but it’s one of those books that has stuck in my mind. It tells the fascinating and shocking story of a poor tobacco farmer, Henrietta Lacks, better known to scientists as HeLa, for the cells that were taken from her and used for research without her consent. These cells became hugely important in modern medicine, used for developing the polio vaccine, gene mapping and more, and the story is one of vital scientific advancement alongside that of a disempowered woman and her family; of race, ethics and the law. “

Sarah Chapman, Knowledge Broker

Katie AbbottsMaking Sense of Allergies

​”Cochrane UK’s Director, Martin Burton, contributed to this useful, downloadable guide to allergies from Sense About Science. Making sense about science can be a challenge – Cochrane partners with others to present evidence you can trust.”

Katie Abbotts, Communications and Media Consultant

Making a list. It’s Evidently Advent by Sarah Chapman

is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

2 Comments on this post

  1. I’m not sure if this is the right kind of idea for the list, but I’ve been becoming more and more aware of the role of hearing loss in healthcare settings. A recent hysterectomy revealed that the hospital has no assistive-listening devices whatsoever. And at a follow-up visit to my OBGYN/Oncologist, she told me she had just seen a patient who was so hard-of-hearing that the pt had no idea why she was in the hospital. After three days. Can we possibly be providing competent healthcare to people if our opportunity to understand each other is so often so degraded?

    Kathi Mestayer / Reply

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