Background: This project is to inform the use of evidence-based information in healthcare consultations. It is funded by the Australian Department of Health and Ageing (Category Two funding for Cochrane entity activities in Australia).
Objectives: To develop materials promoting the use of information from Cochrane reviews by consumers for shared decision making in their health care.
Methods: The project was initiated by forming a management working group made up of people from a range of backgrounds in health care. Most members were unfamiliar with Cochrane. The first priority was to inform the group about The Cochrane Collaboration and its mission and principles, use of The Cochrane Library and the importance of summaries of reviews for consumers. The next step was to define patient-centred health care and its use in the context of this project. Round-table discussions with grassroots consumers, on what they consider health information to be, further informed the project. The third step was to link what we had learned to inform ways in which Cochrane materials can be used.
Results: The project uses a participatory model involving a management working group with a range of stakeholders. A workshop was developed to inform access to information from Cochrane reviews through the Collaboration website and The Cochrane Library. This workshop has been run twice and is proving to be effective. We have raised awareness and interest in the role of the Cochrane Consumer Network, developing plain language summaries, overviews and presentation of information from Cochrane reviews. Materials are to be used to raise awareness of evidence-based health care and its application. These activities highlight the important participatory role of consumers in The Cochrane Collaboration.
Conclusions: This project provides necessary background for the preparation of lay summaries of Cochrane reviews to assist healthcare consumers in their shared decision making.