Wearing Cochrane evidence

Rebecca Selby, a mum of three, shares how a Cochrane Review impacted her family. Cross-posted from the Cochrane Blog.

When I went into labour with our middle son at 32 weeks' gestation, I was given steroid injections to give his lungs the best possible chance in the outside world. When George was born he spent almost a month in intensive care and spent time on full ventilation and CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). He had a series of infections and I am sure that the boost to his lungs from the steroid medication is what saved him. It is highly unlikely that he would be our 8-year-old little boy now without the treatment. A fact for which we will all be eternally grateful!

I started university in September to study Biology with Science and Society and was looking at the Cochrane site when I learned about the meaning behind the Cochrane logo. Each horizontal line within the logo represents the results of one study, while the diamond represents the combined result, the best estimate of whether the treatment is effective or harmful. The diamond sits clearly to the left of the vertical line representing “no difference”, therefore the evidence indicates that the treatment is beneficial. This “forest plot” within the logo illustrates a systematic review (originally published by Crowley et al. and subsequently updated) that was influential in increasing use of corticosteroids in women who are about to give birth prematurely. This simple intervention has probably saved thousands of premature babies – including my son.

I was really drawn to the symbolism in this logo and the personal connection I have with it. The thought that all signs pointed to little to no benefit until you put all of the information together is brilliant.  Sometimes you need to step back and look at the bigger picture!  My husband has since incorporated the inner circle of the Cochrane logo into a tattoo and I am planning my design with the forest plot for next year.

Thank you to all the Cochrane reviewers for making a difference.

Rebecca Selby (@BeccaSelby)