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 Reviews are systematic reviews. In systematic reviews we search for and summarize studies that answer a specific research question (e.g. is paracetamol effective and safe for treating back pain?). The studies are identified, assessed, and summarized by using a systematic and predefined approach. They inform recommendations for healthcare and research. More 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.
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.
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 are systematic reviews. In systematic reviews we search for and summarize studies that answer a specific research question (e.g. is paracetamol effective and safe for treating back pain?). The studies are identified, assessed, and summarized by using a systematic and predefined approach. They inform recommendations for healthcare and research. More 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 The certainty (or quality) of evidence is the extent to which we can be confident that what the research tells us about a particular treatment effect is likely to be accurate. Concerns about factors such as bias can reduce the certainty of the evidence. Evidence may be of high certainty; moderate certainty; low certainty or very-low certainty. Cochrane has adopted the GRADE approach (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) for assessing certainty (or quality) of evidence. Find out more here: https://training.cochrane.org/grade-approach More for each Outcomes are measures of health (for example quality of life, pain, blood sugar levels) that can be used to assess the effectiveness and safety of a treatment or other intervention (for example a drug, surgery, or exercise). In research, the outcomes considered most important are ‘primary outcomes’ and those considered less important are ‘secondary outcomes’. More.
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.