Evidence Synthesis IrelandCochrane Ireland and the HRB Trials Methodology Research Network have refocused their collective resources on prioritised COVID-19 activities to support healthcare policy and practice decision making in Ireland and beyond. The group, called the Emergency Evidence Response Service, is working in collaboration with the NUI Galway Library and colleagues throughout the University (including the Health Behaviour Change Research Group) and broader research community, and are working quickly and flexibly on prioritised questions from the World Health Organisation (WHO), CochraneCampbell UK & Ireland, governments, EPPI-Centre (London), the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM, Oxford) and others.

The methodological expertise in the group includes evidence synthesis across qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods and meta-analysis, randomised controlled trials, trial methodology, core outcome set development and outcome reporting, prioritisation, psychology, behaviour science, behaviour change, implementation science, open science, information searching, communication and dissemination.

EERS members are Claire Beecher, Linda Biesty, Nikita Burke, Dympna Casey, Tom Conway, Yvonne Conway, Hannah Delaney, Declan Devane, Elaine Finucane, Sandra Galvin, Vivienne Hanrahan, Catherine Houghton, Fionnuala Jordan, Ciara Keenan, Chris Noone, Jenny Mc Sharry, Eimear Morrissey, Mike Smalle, Elaine Toomey, Fiona Quirke

Evidence Synthesis Methodology publications

Biesty et al 2020, Process paper in Systematic Reviews (Nov 2020)

Tricco…, Houghton, Devane et al commentary (June 2020)

Devane, mini-commentary: Minimising duplicate reports in estimating COVID-19 impact (July 2020)

Haddaway…Keenan et al, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology (July 2020)

Personal Protective Equipment reviews

Houghton et al 2020, Cochrane qualitative rapid review (21 April 2020)

Fast-tracked prioritised update of a Cochrane review on PPE (Verbeek et al)

Series of rapid reviews on PPE for the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine in Oxford

Healthcare and mental health reviews

Noone et al, Cochrane Rapid Review, Video calls for reducing social isolation and loneliness in older people 21 May 2020

Rapid review of reviews

Cochrane COVID-19 review of clinical practice guidelines for key questions relating to the care of pregnant women (and their babies) are now available here

Cochrane Special Collection – Coronavirus (COVID-19): remote care through telehealth 

  • Available in 7 languages
  • Addresses using telehealth in conditions including asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, reproductive health, and skin cancer.
  • Includes reviews of using telehealth to provide carer and parent support as well as empowering patient self-management
Mapping of evidence
Health claims – fact checked
  • iHealthFacts.ie is a platform where the public can submit health claims and our team work to answer the claim by searching for and assessing the available evidence.
  • Read HRB Open Letter by Zaki et al on Battling the COVID-19 infodemic in an Irish context: the role of iHealthFacts (Nov 2020)
  • Prioritised health claims are assessed with an established process by searching for high-quality evidence to support or refute the claim. The prepared responses are reviewed by a team of Evidence Advisors and by a panel of Public and Patient Advisors.
    • Featured in 2 blog posts including Evidently Cochrane blog on how to know what health advice to believe.
    • Blogpost by E Finucane on Evidently Cochrane: Personal experiences or anecdotes (stories) are an unreliable basis for assessing the effects of most treatments (Sept 2020)
    • Presented at Digital Health NOW! Conference on 23 Nov 2020 (iHealthFacts.ie: separating facts from fiction, Devane, Finucane)
    • >1000 followers on social media
    • 34 claims ‘fact checked’ to date
    • Cited in HRB Open Letter by Murphy et al as an example of PPI during COVID-19 in Ireland.
    • The team are now accepting non-COVID health claims for fact-checking (such as, do dock leaves relieve nettle stings?)
    • Follow iHealthFacts on Twitter and Facebook
Education
Evidence, collaboration and co-ordination
  • Eight volunteers with Evidence Aid, an international humanitarian organisation, who contributed to a large effort toward producing and translating over evidence summaries.
  • We are part of a global network of over 75 researchers co-ordinating evidence synthesis called COVID-END which includes a guide to COVID-19 evidence sources. Also we are members of the International Cochrane COVID-19 Executive Response Team and the Evidence Collaborative for COVID-19 network with the WHO.
Ongoing work

WHO and Cochrane Scoping review (led by Prof Valerie Smith)

COVID-NMA systematic reviews (led by Prof Devane, with F Quirke et al)

Supporting a Cochrane review in “Interventions for Retention in Trials” (Gillies et al, Aberdeen).

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