FAQs about priority-setting

What is prioritisation?

Prioritisation is making an informed decision about what work you will do, given that you have limited time and resources compared to the amount of work that could potentially be done.

Why is this an issue for Cochrane Airways?

We have over 370 published Cochrane Reviews to update and around 40 new reviews in progress at any one time, which is a lot of work for editorial and author teams. We need to make the most of our publically funded resources, by focussing on the most important reviews to people making decisions about their healthcare.

What are the benefits of prioritisation?

Even updating a review with no studies requires a certain amount of effort. This is because there are new expectations for Cochrane Reviews emerging all the time, for instance, new methodology and standards in plain English. It can be important to update reviews even if there are no studies because people are frequently using them. On the other hand, we must have reviews of new treatments and update the reviews where the biggest controversies exist, so it is a balancing act.

What reasons might there be for prioritising a review?

Reasons for updating reviews or writing new reviews are:

  • major new trial published which will change conclusions of review
  • interventions major cost to health service
  • intervention is important in LMIC settings
  • intervention is important to patients
  • there is considerable uncertainty in a review or in the clinical question in general
  • review is highly accessed or cited and the methods need updating.

A lot of this is already considered by review teams because our authors work in a similar funding environment and are often applying evidence from systematic reviews in their daily practice! We are not overwhelmed by requests to update reviews that are no longer of clinical interest. The prioritisation work has come out of a need to be transparent about what we do and to gain more control over the reviews in our scope so the reviews are as helpful as they can be for people making decisions about healthcare.