Synthesising evidence to maximise impact

High quality evidence syntheses reviews are essential for evidence-based practice. Systematic reviews are evidence syntheses which answer important questions using high quality methods to combine results of primary research studies. These inform clinical guidelines and help ensure that patients get the best possible care.  Our team has expertise in conducting high-quality systematic reviews which bring together evidence to inform evidence-based stroke care, and work to improve the methods in this field, including the involvement of patients and the public within systematic reviews and the development of methods for synthesis and analysis of data within complex rehabilitation reviews.

Cochrane systematic reviews

Cochrane stroke logo          Cochrane rehab logo

Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in health care and policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

The Cochrane Stroke Group is based in Edinburgh and has been part of Cochrane since 1993. Cochrane Stroke produces and maintains up-to-date Cochrane reviews about the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation for people with stroke. 

Members of our Living with Stroke research group play key roles within Cochrane Stroke:

More about Cochrane Stroke and the Editorial team can be found here.

We are a leading centre for Cochrane systematic reviews relating to stroke rehabilitation interventions.  Cochrane Stroke reviews conducted by our team cover topics such as yoga, oral health, speech and language therapy for aphasia, ability to sit-to-stand, physical rehabilitation approaches, visual field defects, fatigue, executive dysfunction, spatial neglect, bilateral arm training, home-based arm therapy, eye movement disorders, and age-related visual problems.

Our team have done a number of overviews of reviews, and worked on developing methods in this area. We conducted Cochrane Stroke’s first overview of reviews which relates to arm function.

We also work in partnership with Cochrane Rehabilitation. Cochrane Rehabilitation is an international network of Cochrane authors, rehabilitation professionals and patient organisations which aims to support and facilitate delivery of evidence based clinical practice. More about Cochrane Rehabilitation can be found here.

Involving people in systematic reviews

The involvement in research of people, including patients, their family and carers, health professionals and others, improves the quality, relevance and impact of health research.   Our team play a leading international role in the development of innovative methods of involving patients, carers and health professionals in systematic reviews.   Key activities include:

Systematic reviews conducted by our team are carefully planned to involve people to maximise impact. For example, the PIONEER project is working in partnership with a group of stroke survivors and health professionals; key decisions relating to aspects of our Cochrane review of physical rehabilitation approaches were developed with involvement of stroke survivors, carers and physiotherapists.

Key publications: systematic review methods

Pollock A, Berge E. How to do a systematic review. International Journal of Stroke. 2018 Feb 1;13(2):138-156.

Pollock A, van Wijck F. Cochrane overviews: How can we optimize their impact on evidence-based rehabilitation? European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. 2019 Jun;55(3):395-410.

Arienti C, Lazzarini SG, Patrini M, Puljak L, Pollock A, Negrini S. The structure of research questions in randomized-controlled trials in rehabilitation field. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2021 Jan;100(1):29-33.

Kayes NM, Martin RA, Bright FA, Kersten P, Pollock A. Optimizing the real-world impact of rehabilitation reviews: increasing the relevance and usability of systematic reviews in rehabilitation. European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. 2019 Jun 1;55(3):331-341. PMID 30990002 .

Stucki G, Pollock A, Engkasan JP, Selb M. How to use the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health as a reference system for comparative evaluation and standardized reporting of rehabilitation interventions. European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. 2019 Jun;55(3):384-394.

Hunt H, Pollock A, Campbell P, Estcourt L, Brunton G. An introduction to overviews of reviews: planning a relevant research question and objective for an overview. Systematic Reviews. 2018 Mar 1;7(39).

Pollock A, Campbell P, Brunton G, Hunt H, Estcourt L. Selecting and implementing overview methods: implications from five exemplar overviews. Systematic Reviews. 2017 Jul 18;6. 145.

Pollock A, Farmer SE, Brady MC, Langhorne P, Mead GE, Mehrholz J et al. An algorithm to assign GRADE levels of evidence to comparisons within systematic reviews. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 2015 Sep 1;70:106-110.

Pollock A, Campbell P, Baer G, Choo PL, Forster A, Morris J et al. Challenges in integrating international evidence relating to stroke rehabilitation: experiences from a Cochrane systematic review. International Journal of Stroke. 2014 Dec;9(8):965-967.

Weir CJ, Assi V, Na L, Lewis SC, Murray GD, Langhorne P, Brady MC. Unreported summary statistics in trial publications and risk of bias in stroke rehabilitation systematic reviews: an international survey of review authors and examination of practical solutions. Journal of Stroke Medicine 2019 2(2)136-142.

Weir CJ, Butcher I, Lewis SC, Murray GD, Langhorne P, Brady MC. Dealing with missing standard deviation and mean values in meta-analysis of continuous outcomes: a systematic review. BMC Medical Research Methodology 2018;18(1) DOI 10.1186/s12874-018-0483-0.

Key publications: involving people in systematic reviews

Pollock A, Campbell P, Synnot A, Smith M, Morley R. Patient and public involvement in systematic reviews. In G-I-N Public Toolkit: Patient and Public Involvement in Guidelines. 2021. p. 1-29

Pollock A, Campbell P, Baer G, Choo PL, Morris J, Forster A. User involvement in a Cochrane systematic review: using structured methods to enhance the clinical relevance, usefulness and usability of a systematic review update. Systematic Reviews. 2015 Apr 20;4(55).

Pollock A, Campbell P, Struthers C, Synnot A, Nunn J, Hill S et al. Development of the ACTIVE framework to describe stakeholder involvement in systematic reviews. Journal of Health Services Research and Policy. 2019 Oct 1;24(4):245-255.

Pollock A, Campbell P, Struthers C, Synnot A, Nunn J, Hill S et al. Stakeholder involvement in systematic reviews: a scoping review. Systematic Reviews. 2018 Nov 24;7. 208.

Pollock A, Campbell P, Struthers C, Synnot A, Nunn J, Hill S et al. Stakeholder involvement in systematic reviews: a protocol for a systematic review of methods, outcomes and effects. Research Involvement and Engagement. 2017 Apr 21;3. 9.

Petkovic J, Riddle A, Akl EA, Khabsa J, Lytvyn L, Atwere P et al. Protocol for the development of guidance for stakeholder engagement in health and healthcare guideline development and implementation. Systematic Reviews. 2020 Feb 1;9(21). 21.

Hoddinott P, Pollock A, O'Cathain A, Boyer I, Taylor J, MacDonald C et al. How to incorporate patient and public perspectives into the design and conduct of research [version 1; peer review: 3 approved, 2 approved with reservations]. F1000Research. 2018 Jun 18;7(752).