Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

DOH321 Research Skills Guide: Cochrane Library

About the Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library is produced by the Cochrane Collaboration, "an international not-for-profit and independent organization, dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of health care readily available". It makes available systematic reviews of healthcare interventions, while promoting the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other studies of interventions. The Cochrane Library is one of the prime international and independent sources of evidence-based medicine information.

Access to the Cochrane Library is free in Australia, so keep in mind that this is a database you will be able to access even after you have completed your studies.

What are Systematic Reviews?

Searching the Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library is one of the prime international and independent sources of evidence-based medicine information.

There are several resources in the Cochrane Library, the two main ones are:

  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Cochrane Reviews)
  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Cochrane Central).

Of these, the main one is Cochrane Reviews, as systematic reviews are one of the higher levels of evidence on which clinical decisions are based. Cochrane Reviews are available in full-text.

Other resources and features include:

  • Cochrane Clinical Answers - short, clinically-focussed entry-points to research
  • Special Collections - curated collections on specific healthcare topics
  • search access to the Epistemonikos health evidence database.

For sophisticated searching it is recommended that you go to Advanced Search.

Let’s say we wish to search the Cochrane Library for material on nurs* AND cardiac arrest OR heart attack AND treat* OR care.....

  • Enter your search terms as in the screenshot below, use 1 search line/box for each concept (Note: you can add further search boxes by clicking the + symbol adjacent to the search box).
  • Retain the AND as the combining operator between the 3 lines of search:

Cochrane search screen

Viewing Search Results

Cochrane Library defaults to displaying search results with the Cochrane Review results showing first, with access to results from the other databases (and an indication of the numbers of results) via the tabs that appear above your search results.

Cochrane results list

Viewing a systematic review:

To access the full text of a systematic review click on the title of the review.

Viewing a Clinical Trial record:

As with the list of Systematic Reviews, the title is a link to the full record. But with these Trials, you just get the citation and abstract of the journal article (most clinical trials are reported in journal articles):

To access a Clinical Trial, you would have to track down the article noted in the citation, to do this try searching for the article title in Primo Search

Tip: From the Advanced Search Screen in Cochrane you can Browse Reviews, this option is available from the Cochrane Reviews drop down menu that appears toward the top of the page. The browse option enables you to browse by topic, an option you can use when you are unsure of the best search terms to use in this database.

For more information on searching the Cochrane Library please see: Cochrane Library Help

Cochrane Library - Activity

""Open the Cochrane Library and try searching for the keywords – dental caries OR tooth decay AND prevent*, entered as in the example above.

Alternatively you could try searching for terms or key concepts you have identified from your own clinical or research question.

Remember to select the Advanced Search option before entering your search terms.