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Cochrane Fellowship Review

Curran, B., Barrett, R., (2012) Review of All-Ireland Cochrane Fellowship Scheme (pdf).  Dublin: Health Research Board.

The Cochrane Training Fellowship (CTF) scheme is unique to Ireland (North and South) and was developed to build capacity on the island to conduct high quality systematic reviews. The CTF scheme has been co-funded by the HRB and the HSC R&D Division of Northern Ireland since 2002. In 2011, the HRB carried out a review to assess the appropriateness, effectiveness and impact of the CTF scheme prior to announcing any further calls for proposals.

The review found that the CTF scheme is achieving its primary objective of building capacity for the conduct of Cochrane reviews on the island of Ireland, and many positives were identified:

  •  The vast majority of CTF participants who have completed the fellowship to date have completed Cochrane review training and have published a review, or are in the process of preparing a full review.

  • The numbers of Irish authors of Cochrane Reviews has increased significantly in the last decade and much of this can be attributed to the CTF. 

  •  Past fellowship holders described high quality supervision and training afforded to them through the scheme.  

  •  Most fellows reported beneficial career impacts of having completed the fellowship and in a significant number of cases, past fellows went on to produce further systematic reviews, or supervised/assisted another reviewer.

  • Consultation with key stakeholders showed that awareness and esteem of Cochrane Reviews in general is high, that the CTF is valued, and that Cochrane Reviews produced through the CTF have been of relevance to the Irish health service while also contributing to the international pool of evidence around a key health topic

The review also identified areas for improvement and eleven recommendations are set out - eg stating more explicitly the specific objectives of this scheme vís-a-vís other national evidence synthesis needs, setting out more clearly the significant milestones and timelines for monitoring  purposes, and implementing a more prescriptive training regimen for fellows, aligned with the differing needs across the lifecycle of the review process. A new call for Cochrane Fellowships incorporating these recommended changes was published in February 2012.

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