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Preparing for Qualifying Exams in Biomedical Engineering

A collection of resources to assist graduate students to find and synthesize information in Biomedical Engineering

What is the Cochrane Library?

The Cochrane Library provides access to a collection of databases that contain high-quality, independent evidence to inform health care decision-making. These databases include:

  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Cochrane Reviews)
  • Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects -also known as DARE (Other Reviews)
  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Clinical Trials)
  • NHS Economic Evaluation Database (Economic Evaluations)

The Cochrane Library provides access to various systematic reviews in Cochrane Reviews and DARE databases.

According to Churchill Livingstone's Dictionary of Nursing (2006) a systemic review is defined as 'a systematic approach to literature reviews (published and unpublished material) that reduces random errors and bias'.

Why use the Cochrane Library?

Cochrane Reviews represent the highest level of evidence on which to base clinical decisions. This evidence is gathered by bringing together the research which looks at the effectiveness of different health care treatments and interventions. Cochrane Reviews attempt to provide answers to the following questions:

  • How do you know if one health care treatment or intervention is any better than another?
  • Will the intervention do more good than harm?
  • How can health professionals and consumers make sense of all the research going on around the world?

The Cochrane Library provides information on diverse topics such as injury prevention for pedestrians and cyclists, St John’s wort for depression, programs to reduce juvenile delinquency, the prevention of jet lag, advice on low-fat diets for obesity, and prayer for the alleviation of ill health.

Terminology relevant to the Cochrane Library

Protocol - plan or set of steps to be followed in preparation of a study

Systematic Reviews - overviews in clinical medicine which were originally summaries of relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs), 

Meta-Analyses - systematic reviews which employ a quantitative method to summarize results

Churchill Livingstone's Dictionary of Nursing 2006, Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, viewed 28 February , 2009,