Background: Evidence Aid, The Cochrane Collaboration and Wiley-Blackwell first introduced the free, one-click access policy for Cochrane Reviews in 2007. This was for countries in the World Bank list of low-income economies. The initiative was extended in September 2010, allowing direct no-cost access to people in a greater number of countries all over the world. People in more than 100 countries, in some of the most impoverished parts of the world, now have free access to The Cochrane Library through the Internet.
Methods: The number of unique visits to www.thecochranelibrary.com, number of visits by country, and most accessed Cochrane Reviews on Wiley InterScience/Wiley Online Library (from August 2010) for 2010 were taken from the Wiley Usage Data Warehouse, an analysis tool that stores and tracks usage data. Another set of usage data was obtained from all other licensed providers of The Cochrane Library, showing the number of abstracts and full text articles that were accessed during 2010. A subset of data will be collected and interrogated for low- and middle-income countries with one-click access covering access denied data and the comparative access periods (From switch-on September 2010).
Results: Data taken from all providers of The Cochrane Library show that during 2010 use increased. Full text use on the Wiley platform increased by 17%. Use by the World Bank list of low-income economies increased by 74% from 2009 data. Countries in this programme with the most downloads included: Vietnam, Pakistan (free access through Evidence Aid after flood disaster), Ecuador, Nigeria, and Kenya.
Conclusions: Global use of The Cochrane Library continues to grow. The initiative for access for low- and middle-income countries is a major development, above and beyond the provision of knowledge for natural disasters. This positions The Cochrane Collaboration, Wiley-Blackwell and Evidence Aid at the forefront of information provision.