Evidence Synthesis Ireland, Cochrane 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), Cochrane, Campbell 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, Chris Noone, Jenny Mc Sharry, Eimear Morrissey, Mike Smalle, Elaine Toomey, Fiona Quirke


  • Trials in a Pandemic – special symposium
    • 4 sessions with 1,600+ registrations
    • 10 international speakers, including World Health Organisation
    • 23 countries
  • Three special COVID-19 and evidence synthesis webinars, to > 700 attendees to date
  • Two COVID-related summer studentships awarded

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.
  • 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.
    • >1000 followers on social media
    • 31 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


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

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

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

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

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

  • Participating in the Steering Group and in mapping of a living mapping of studies of COVID-19 (@COVIDNMA).
    • Contains living systematic reviews on pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, preventive treatments and rehabilitation
    • The WHO are now using https://covid-nma.com/as a primary source of evidence on treatments for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19
    • You can filter studies by type of pharmacological treatment, registration date, study aim, severity scale and an interactive map of clinical trials per country.
    • Protocol published here
  • Cochrane Ireland, France, Austria, Germany and IQWiG, calling for transparency of COVID19 studies, issued an open letter to the European Medicines Agency to make clinical data from trials of COVID-19 medicines and vaccines available at the time of marketing authorisation.
  • Collaborating on Meta-evidence Map for COVID19

Evidence, collaboration and co-ordination

  • Eight volunteers withEvidence 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

With EPPI Centre Evidence Reviews Facility: Befriending, social support, and low intensity psychosocial interventions delivered remotely to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older adults 

Supported Cochrane rapid review on digital solutions for contact tracing with information retrieval expertise.

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


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