1.1.1  Introduction

The Cochrane Collaboration (www.cochrane.org) is an international organization whose primary aim is to help people make well-informed decisions about health care by preparing, maintaining and promoting the accessibility of systematic reviews of the evidence that underpins them.  By providing a reliable synthesis of the available evidence on a given topic, systematic reviews adhere to the principle that science is cumulative and facilitate decisions considering all the evidence on the effect of an intervention. Since it was founded in 1993, The Cochrane Collaboration has grown to include over 15,000 contributors from more than 100 countries, easily making it the largest organization involved in this kind of work (Allen 2006, Allen 2007). The international Collaboration was launched one year after the establishment of the Cochrane Centre in Oxford (now the UK Cochrane Centre), founded by Sir Iain Chalmers and colleagues, and named after British epidemiologist Archie Cochrane. The Cochrane Collaboration is now an internationally renowned initiative (Clarke 2005, Green 2005).


The work of The Cochrane Collaboration is underpinned by a set of 10 key principles, listed in Box 1.1.a.