A call to support Cochrane's social responsibility of improving health equity - the Equity Group

Article type
Parker R1, Petkovic J2, Pardo Pardo J3, Welch V2, Tugwell P4
2Bruyère Research Institute and University of Ottawa
3University of Ottawa and Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
4University of Ottawa, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Bruyère Research Institute
Health equity is a moral and ethical imperative. In the 2022 Cochrane Lecture, Jimmy Volmink challenged the organization to address not only inequities raised from health interventions but also consider how to address the social determinants of health which lead to such disparities. Thirteen years ago, The Cochrane and Campbell Equity Methods Group was established to encourage systematic reviewers to consider the potential for interventions to reduce or increase socioeconomic inequities in health. This Campbell and Cochrane Equity Methods Group has just been successfully granted status to become one of the first Cochrane Thematic Groups, herein referred to as The Equity Group.

The Equity Group aims to:
1. Promote equity in the health evidence-base
2. Ensure equitable processes for stakeholder engagement
3. Produce high-priority, equity-focused evidence syntheses
4. Build capacity for equity design, analysis, and reporting
5. Promote equity in implementation tools

The Equity Group will run a program of projects aiming to reduce health inequity by meeting our five objectives. We will collaborate widely both internally and externally to Cochrane and support any work which helps achieve our objectives.

Program of projects:
Examples from our workplan include the following:
We will develop methods for promoting equity in observational studies, randomized trials, and systematic reviews. We will produce evidence-based, consensus-informed, robust extensions to widely used research tools for these methodologies.
We have funding to develop guidance for equitable multi-stakeholder engagement in evidence syntheses. We will develop a series of documents with recommendations for conducting, reporting, and evaluating stakeholder engagement throughout all stages of the evidence synthesis process.
We are planning to conduct a robust priority setting process that will aim to identify the highest priority equity-focused systematic reviews that should be produced.
The Equity Group aims to train author teams and evidence synthesis units to build capacity for equity analysis. This includes creating formal and informal partnerships globally.
We plan on developing an equity extension to the widely used GIN-McMaster Guideline Development Checklist.

We hereby call to action to listeners who believe in the need to promote health equity and want to support these objectives.