An evidence advent calendar!

It turns out that Cochrane’s for Christmas, not just for life, with evidence in the Cochrane Library on all manner of festive things from gold, frankincense and myrrh to stockings! Ok, some of the links are a bit tenuous, but we hope you’ll enjoy our advent calendar.

Owing to some trouble with the technology elves, we couldn’t make it interactive (boo!) but each day we’ll post some Cochrane evidence related to the day’s picture, below the calendar. If you think of any others, do share them via the comments box.

advent calendar

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A mystery, missing evidence and some answers!

Contrary to what you might expect, you’ll have to wait until the end for the mystery, though in truth missing data and important questions that remain unanswered could also be labelled as that, and this is where I start.

My last blog was a round-up of new and updated reviews on asthma and I begin this one with another offering from the Cochrane Airways Group (do these people never take a day off?). It’s another tale of what we still don’t know, this time about a class of anti-inflammatory drugs called anti-leukotrines. For managing mild persistent asthma in children, low-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are recommended, but if symptoms aren’t well controlled with ICS then anti-leukotrines may be added. Almost ten years ago, a Cochrane review was published which pulled together the available evidence on the safety and effectiveness of this treatment for adults and children and found very little to go on, with just two small trials with children. Now a review has been published which looked for trials involving children (any age below 18) and finds we’re not much further on.

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Helping, not harming: with a little help from the Cochrane Library

The Ancient Greeks knew a thing or two, not least about medicine. We are hearing a lot about shared decision-making in these days of ‘no decision about me without me’, but the notion that the patient must combat the disease along with the physician appears in Hippocratic writings from the early fourth century BC and so does the requirement that the doctor’s job is to do good or to do no harm.

intensive care

HES: risks may outweigh benefits

Fast forward a couple of millennia and we come to the Cochrane Library! Looking through the newest evidence there put me in mind of these basic principles of medicine, particularly how vital it is to know about the possible harms resulting from treatments, and that researchers must ask useful questions and measure the right things if that research is going to help patients. Continue reading

Now cranberries are just for Christmas – new evidence suggests cranberry juice unlikely to prevent urinary tract infections

Key message: The current evidence suggests that any benefit of taking cranberry products to prevent urinary tract infection is likely to be small and people may find taking them over a long period of time unacceptable.

As garlic is to vampires, so cranberries are to urinary tract infections (UTIs); or so many people believe, drinking cranberry juice in the hope of avoiding bouts of this unpleasant complaint. Cranberry products have been used for this purpose for a very long time and though it’s unclear how they might help, one theory is that cranberries prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder. Continue reading