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Featured Resource - 2008 No. 109

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About The Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library is a regularly updated collection of evidence-based medicine databases that brings together relevant research on the effectiveness of healthcare treatments and interventions. The Cochrane Library can be used to inform healthcare decision-making for hundreds of medical conditions, plus related topics such as injury prevention, smoking cessation, oral health, professional practice, and natural & alternative treatments. Published by Wiley InterScience, The Cochrane Library is recognized worldwide as a source of high-quality, independent evidence for healthcare interventions.

The Cochrane Library can help answer questions such as:

  • Is acupuncture an effective treatment for insomnia?
  • What are the best antibiotics to use for community-acquired pneumonia?
  • What are the best follow-up strategies for women treated for early breast cancer?
  • Should anticoagulants be used on patients in heart failure who are in normal heart rhythm?

Components of The Cochrane Library

  • The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews is the central component of The Cochrane Library. It contains thousands of rigorously conducted, comprehensive reviews of all the available research relating to a particular healthcare intervention. Studies included in the reviews are primarily  randomized controlled trials, including unpublished and non-English studies, but other types of high-level research studies are also included when appropriate. Each review describes the search strategy used to find relevant studies, characteristics of the studies selected for inclusion, and the method used to conduct the review. Results of the various studies are summarized and interpreted, often through use of meta-analysis, to determine whether there is conclusive evidence about the specific treatment. The reviews include plain language summaries of the effectiveness of the particular intervention, as well as implications for practice and directions for future research. The Cochrane Reviews are written by over fifty groups within the Cochrane Collaboration, an international not-for-profit, organization.
  • The Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) complements the Cochrane Reviews by quality-assessing and summarizing systematic reviews and meta-analyses conducted by other bodies. Each DARE record includes a citation and summary of the original article, and a critical commentary about the overall quality of the study and the conclusions reached by its authors.
  • The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials includes reports of controlled trials found in bibliographic databases and other sources. It provides the title of the article, publication information, and in many cases the abstract. 
  • The Cochrane Methodology Register presents a bibliography of publications that report on methods used when conducting controlled trials. It includes journal articles, books, and conference proceedings.
  • The Health Technology Assessment Database brings together details of completed and ongoing health technology assessments (studies of the medical, social, ethical, and economic implications of healthcare interventions) from around the world. The aim of the database is to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care.
  • The NHS Economic Evaluation Database gathers information about the cost-effectiveness of competing healthcare interventions by systematically identifying economic evaluations published worldwide, appraising their quality, and highlighting their relative strengths and weaknesses. The database includes information about how effectiveness was analyzed, effectiveness results, indirect costs, and cost-benefit analysis.

How to connect to The Cochrane Library

  • Go to Dana Medical Library's homepage
  • Click on Cochrane Library under Databases & E-Books.
  • To access The Cochrane Library from off-campus, you must be a UVM or University of Vermont Medical Center faculty, staff, or student. See the Connect from Off-Campus link on the Dana Medical Library homepage for details.
  • Members of the community may access The Cochrane Library on site at the Dana Medical Library. 

Searching The Cochrane Library

To conduct a search in The Cochrane Library, enter search terms in one or more of the search boxes provided. Select the desired field from the drop-down box, or Search All Text. You can search across the entire Cochrane Library, or limit your search to selected databases. Helpful search tips are provided on the left side of the screen.

Generally, a simple search across all text and all databases, using fairly broad terms, is a good place to start. Suppose you want to search for information on treating acute otitis media. Enter the search terms and click Search.


Results from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews ("Cochrane Reviews") are displayed first. Click on the other links to see results from the other Cochrane Library databases.


Browse the results, noting which reviews are protocols (reviews in progress), completed reviews, new reviews, and reviews that contain comments.


Click on the Record link to access a desired review.

Note the Table of Contents on the left, which provides quick links to the PDF, plain language summary, author's conclusions, notes, MeSH headings, and other critical elements.

The document window provides the full-text in HTML. The review begins with information about the authors, the particular Cochrane Group responsible for the review, dates of original publication and revisions, and instructions on how to cite the review.

Scroll down to view the entire review, or click on the PDF link to view it in that format.



You can also conduct a search of The Cochrane Library by using MeSH terms (e.g., Medical Subject Headings) by clicking on the MeSH Search link, or you can search using field tags by going through the Search History link. You may wish to use a combination of these search strategies to explore the full capabilities of this rich resource.

For more information:

The Cochrane Library includes many more features and tools than can be described in this short summary. For help with searching The Cochrane Library, or any of the other electronic resources available through Dana Medical Library, please contact a reference librarian for personalized help. We can provide on-the-spot navigation assistance, or set up an appointment for more in-depth instruction.

  • Stop by the Dana Medical Library reference desk, Mon-Friday 10:00 am -4:00 pm.
  • Call the reference desk at 802-656-2201.
  • Send an email to a reference librarian at danaref@uvm.edu.

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