Priority reviews

Top 10 review priority areas (2019)

Cochrane’s policy and procedures have evolved to establish priority areas for reviews. We define priority-setting as making informed decisions about new topics for reviews to ensure that concepts identified through consultation with health professionals, consumer representatives, and other stakeholders are met. Our priority-setting work involved three components: a stakeholder Delphi survey; gaps analysis for available RCT evidence and published reviews; and analysis of topics searched via the Trip database. We combined findings from all components to derive top priority review areas. These are:

  1. Pneumonia
  2. Influenza
  3. Acute cough
  4. Middle ear infection
  5. Sore throat
  6. Common cold
  7. Sinusitis
  8. Bronchiolitis
  9. Meningitis
  10. Polio

We welcome enquiries from potential review teams who wish to undertake reviews relating to these areas. Potential review teams should first check that there are not current reviews (completed or underway) that address their topic of interest. Please see our reviews and the Cochrane Library.

Other review topics

We will also consider review proposals on other topics, but priority topics will take precedence.

Priority-setting project components

We have published papers relating to each priority-setting component.

Research gaps analysis

Read our report: Determining the gaps between Cochrane reviews and trials of effectiveness of interventions for acute respiratory infections: an audit. An interactive data graph is also available.

The top 5 priority topics derived from the gaps analysis were:

  1. Antibiotics for pneumonia
  2. Antibiotics for acute bronchitis
  3. Antibiotics for sore throat
  4. Antibiotics for middle ear infection
  5. Antibiotics for sinus infection

Delphi survey

Read our report: Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group's stakeholder engagement project identified systematic review priority areas

The top 5 priority topics derived from the survey were:

  1. Vaccinations for acute respiratory infections
  2. Antivirals for acute respiratory infections
  3. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories for acute respiratory infections
  4. Vitamins and supplements for acute respiratory infections
  5. Infection control and influenza

Trip database analysis

Read our report: The TRIP database showed most Acute Respiratory Infections questions were already addressed by Cochrane reviews

The top 5 priority topics derived from the Trip database analysis were:

  1. Vaccination and influenza
  2. Antibiotics for middle ear infection
  3. Vitamin C for the common cold
  4. Corticosteroids for meningitis
  5. Treatments for pneumonia

About the priority-setting project

Steering Group members

Professor Chris Del Mar, Cochrane ARI Co-ordinating Editor, Director of Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice (CREBP) (Bond University, Australia)
Dr Mark Jones, Cochrane ARI Deputy Co-ordinating Editor (Bond University, Australia)
Dr Anna Mae Scott, Senior Research Fellow/Assistant Professor, Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice (CREBP) (Bond University, Australia)
Justin Clark, Cochrane ARI Information Specialist
Liz Dooley, Cochrane ARI Managing Editor; and
Ann Jones, Cochrane ARI Managing Editor.

External stakeholders and contributors

We are grateful for the support and interest of many external stakeholders who provided data, guidance and feedback. Many people from a wide range of organisations and agencies helped to promote stakeholder involvement to complete the Delphi survey:

  1. Cochrane Knowledge Translation
  2. Cochrane Membership, Learning and Support Services
  3. Centre for Health Communication and Participation, School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Australia
  4. European Patients' Academy (EUPATI) Facebook group
  5. Lung Cancer Canada
  6. Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi) Patient/Consumer Interest Group
  7. Cystic Fibrosis patient groups
  8. Institute of Health Economics, Canada
  9. Health Consumers Alliance of South Australia Inc; and
  10. Health Consumers Queensland, Australia.

We are also indebted to the Delphi survey respondents. We thank and acknowledge the director of the Trip database.

Project time frame

The project was undertaken from 2017 to 2018. We plan to review the relevance of the priority topics as time and resources permit. 

What we learned

We made a post hoc decision to link priority topics to a standardised list of topics supported and managed by the Cochrane ARI group. We felt that harmonising free text responses from the survey was positive (some respondents suggested topics outside the Group's scope, and topics that needed definition, such as 'non-specific ARI').

We plan to create closer harmony between acute respiratory tract infections (ARIs) and interventions; ultimately, analysis of disparate results did not enable linking ARIs with specific interventions.