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Meeting the challenge of Archie Cochrane--and facing up to some new ones
It is surely a great criticism of our profession that we have not organised a critical summary, by specialty or subspecialty, updated periodically, of all relevant randomised controlled trials.
Archie Cochrane, 1979
In 1992, Iain Chalmers and colleagues wrote an editorial in the BMJ that began with the above quotation and set out challenges foreseen at the time of the opening of what became the first Cochrane Centre, in Oxford. Some of these challenges have been met, some remain, and new ones have arisen as the centre which is now the Cochrane Collaboration strives to prepare and keep up to date systematic reviews of the effects of healthcare interventions.
At the time, the major hurdle facing reviewers was identifying relevant randomised trials, and the editorial described efforts to make the task easier. Nine years on, these efforts have contributed to the …