Cochrane blogshots: challenges and changes

With the launch of new guidance for making Cochrane blogshots, Sarah Chapman, who has helped produce the document, explains how this has come about and some of the challenges of sharing evidence in this format.

Back in June 2015, a Twitter conversation with @WeNurses founder Teresa Chinn led me to experiment with developing ‘blogshots’ as a way of sharing Cochrane evidence on social media. Since making some early refinements to the format, and versions of it for health professional and non-medical audiences of our ‘Evidence for Everyday’ series, we have been making and sharing blogshots in the same way – almost 600 of them so far. Others in Cochrane are making them too and translating them into other languages.

This year, as part of Cochrane’s Knowledge Translation work, we were asked to produce some guidance for those in Cochrane wishing to make blogshots, with the aims of improving consistency and accuracy and ensuring quality. In the process of doing this, our scrutiny of current practice revealed the extent to which the blogshots vary and highlighted both the need for guidance and also the many uncertainties about what ‘best practice’ might look like.

Blogshots – quick to read and share

Blogshots have great potential. They give brief information in a format that is quick to read and share on social media, with a link to the full review for those who want more information, and they are easily updated when the Cochrane Review is updated. Anecdotally, people seem to like them. But we know little about people’s understanding and use of them and there is a lack of evidence to guide most aspects of blogshot production and dissemination. Currently, there is considerable variation in content and format of blogshots across Cochrane.

Blogshot example

Blogshots give brief information in a format that is quick to read and share on social media

Moving from innovation to evaluation

As an organization dealing in evidence, we think we need to do better than base practices on anecdote and best guesses! We also need to ensure that we avoid duplication of effort, and that innovation isn’t at the expense of quality. It’s good to experiment, but now we need to evaluate how well our new products and practices are working and how we could improve them.

Making improvements

Blogshots may look like ‘quick wins’, but they are not a simple undertaking. Something we quickly discovered was that it is difficult to impose uniformity on blogshots when they are based on Cochrane Reviews in all their variety! However, we hope that the new guidance will go some way towards providing some basic presentation guidelines whilst allowing flexibility to ensure the information included is relevant to the target audience and adapted to the Cochrane Review.

We have amended our own practice, with key changes being the addition of a section for reporting on harms, useful for most reviews where decision makers are being informed about both intended and unintended effects, and the inclusion of the evidence certainty for each outcome.

Over to you!

We hope we will be able to do some work evaluating people’s understanding and use of blogshots. Meanwhile, we’d love to hear your comments via Twitter @CochraneUK @SarahChapman30 and Facebook, or here on the blog. Are you using them and, if so, how? Do you share them with others? Do you go to the Cochrane Review for more information? Do they ever influence what you do? These are just a few questions to start with…

I’d also be really interested to hear from others who are doing something similar. Go!

Sarah Chapman has nothing to disclose.

 


Sarah Chapman

About Sarah Chapman

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Sarah's work as a Knowledge Broker at Cochrane UK focuses on disseminating Cochrane evidence through social media, including Evidently Cochrane blogs, blogshots and the ‘Evidence for Everyday’ series for nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and patients. A former registered general nurse, Sarah has a particular interest making evidence accessible and useful to practitioners and to others making decisions about health. Before joining Cochrane, Sarah also worked on systematic reviews for the University of Oxford and the Royal College of Nursing Institute, and obtained degrees in History from the University of Oxford and in the history of women’s health and illness in early modern England (MPhil., University of Reading).

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