Background: In 2001, The Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group recognized that people living in developing countries are poorly represented within Cochrane entities and that steps should be taken to promote their contribution to the work of The Cochrane Collaboration (CC). In order to increase support, a Developing Country Initiative (DCI) was launched.
Objectives: To determine the perspectives and perceptions of people living in developing countries on the challenges they face in attempting to contribute to CC and to seek their advice on how these challenges could be addressed.
Methods: A cross sectional survey was conducted in 2004 using a questionnaire administered by email. The study population comprised people from developing countries (based on World Bank classification), who are involved in CC. Contact details of the study population were obtained by searching CCÂs contact database for people with a registered address in a low or middle-income country. This was validated by contacting all Cochrane entities. To maximize the response rate an incentive was offered. We used STATA to analyse quantitative data and Thematic Content Analysis for open-ended questions.
Results: The overall response rate was 23.6%. Forty-three percent of respondents were from Latin America and the Caribbean, 19% from Sub-Saharan Africa and 18% from East Asia and the Pacific. Fifty-five different languages were given by respondents as their first language, the most frequent being Spanish (30%). Thirty-five percent first heard about CC from a colleague. Thirty-two percent did not know which Cochrane Centre is their reference centre. A quarter of respondents did not contribute to CC. Respondents were generally happy with the support they received from the various entities. Knowledge about CC and The Cochrane Library was low amongst policy-makers and the general public. Areas identified for support: Awareness raising about CC and evidence-based health care, access to The Cochrane Library, training and mentorship for authors of reviews, practical assistance with review completion and encouraging broader participation and inclusiveness in activities of CC.
Conclusions: Definite barriers to participating in CC exist. A strategic plan of action, with measurable targets, is needed and resources should be made available for implementation.