Cochrane overviews: How can we optimize their impact on evidence-based rehabilitation?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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INTRODUCTION: Overviews (i.e. reviews of multiple systematic reviews) comprise a relatively novel methodology to systematically synthesize research findings. Overviews aim for a beneficial impact on clinical practice, but their methods and pathways to impact have so far not been mapped. The aim of this paper was to inform recommendations for optimizing impact on rehabilitation practice and research by mapping methods and pathways to impact in Cochrane overviews relevant to rehabilitation. EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: We systematically searched and identified published Cochrane overviews (to June 2018) relevant to rehabilitation. We extracted data and compared overviews on key characteristics, methods of evidence synthesis, statements about impact, and access metrics. We explored one overview in detail regarding beneficiaries, activities and outputs, mapped potential pathways to impact, and, using an iterative process, refined this into a generic map. Through exploration of all synthesized data, we propose further recommendations for planning, conducting and reporting of future overviews in order to optimize impact on rehabilitation. EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: We identified seven Cochrane overviews relevant to rehabilitation. Their focus and methods varied, but they were broadly related to rehabilitation interventions for populations of people with diverse long-term conditions. Overviews also varied regarding their intended impact; only 4 overviews identified specific beneficiaries. All overviews included multiple tables and figures, but only one synthesized key findings into a single figure. For five overviews, the Altmetric Attention Score (a weighted count of attention that an output receives based on a range of online sources) was in the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric. The overview within our worked example had four key impact goals, each with different beneficiaries and required actions; this example led to a generic map of potential pathways to impact for other overviews. CONCLUSIONS: Cochrane overviews have the potential to play a key role in knowledge translation and therefore to be useful in supporting evidence-based rehabilitation practice. However, current overviews relating to rehabilitation differ in methods, approaches and intended impact, and sometimes fall short of promoting easy access to key information for beneficiaries. Future Cochrane overviews should address topics of importance to key beneficiaries and clearly outline potential pathways to impact in order to have a potential beneficial impact on evidence-based rehabilitation and to improve rehabilitation outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-410
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number3
Early online date1 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Literature review as topic
  • Rehabilitation
  • Review
  • Systematic review as topic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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