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22.1.2  Rationale for Cochrane Overviews

Cochrane Overviews are intended primarily to overview multiple Cochrane Intervention reviews addressing the effects of two or more potential interventions for a single condition or health problem. Cochrane Overviews highlight the Cochrane reviews that address these potential interventions and summarize their results for important outcomes. 


It is important to note that there are other reasons for undertaking overviews of reviews. Cochrane Overviews of reviews can accommodate some, but not all of these objectives. Table 22.1.a outlines different reasons for overviewing systematic reviews and indicates which of these are suitable for publication as a Cochrane Overview. Before registering or publishing a Cochrane Overview, CRGs should ensure that a planned Overview is suitable for publication.


As can be surmised from Table 22.1.a, a central aim of Cochrane Overviews is to serve as a ‘friendly front end’ to The Cochrane Library, allowing the reader a quick overview (and an exhaustive list) of Cochrane Intervention reviews relevant to a specific decision. The primary audiences envisioned are decision makers (such as a clinicians, policy makers, or informed consumers) who are accessing The Cochrane Library for evidence on a specific problem. Once completed, Cochrane Overviews will be published as part of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in a format that allows readers to readily distinguish them from Cochrane Intervention reviews, Diagnostic test accuracy reviews and Methodology reviews.