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Clearing up Confusion: CIHR supports systematic reviews of health research evidence to provide clear answers on back pain, lung disease, cancer, and recurrent miscarriage

OTTAWA, May 19 /CNW Telbec/ - The evidence is strong - and it's also

contradictory. What's a health professional to do? How are patients to make

decisions? Now, there's guidance. The Cochrane Collaboration recently released

key conclusions in four areas, finding that herbal treatments can help back

pain, antibiotics are effective for treating a type of lung disease called

chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), acupuncture can alleviate nausea

from cancer treatment and immunotherapy does not help couples experiencing

recurrent miscarriage. As part of its effort to ensure all Canadians benefit

from health research knowledge, CIHR is providing more than $7 million over

5 years for the Canadian activities of The Cochrane Collaboration.

On May 20th, 2006, as the world celebrates the 2nd annual International

Clinical Trials Day, CIHR is proud to highlight its support for the Canadian

activities of The Cochrane Collaboration, an organization that conducts

systematic reviews of clinical trials. These reviews provide clear information

to researchers, health professionals and average Canadians about what works,

what doesn't, and where more health research is needed.

"I am often asked how people should decipher the contradictory health

research evidence they hear. The answer is to look at broad international

evidence through systematic reviews, and that is just what the Cochrane

Collaboration does," said Dr. Mark Bisby, Vice-President Research CIHR. "The

Cochrane Collaboration plays a crucial role in ensuring the knowledge gained

through thousands of international clinical trials can be used by health

professionals and patients to improve prevention and treatment, as well as by

the health research community to guide future research."

Recently announced findings of the Cochrane Collaboration illustrate the

important role systematic reviews play in providing clear answers to complex

questions. By systematically reviewing the results of international clinical

trials, Cochrane reviewers have concluded:


- Three herbal treatments - extracts of Devils' Claw, White Willow Bark

and Cayenne - all appear to reduce low-back pain. The results of

randomized controlled trials show that Devil's Claw and White Willow

Bark are comparable with conventional medicines;

- Antibiotics should be used to treat exacerbations of COPD, a disease

suffered by 2.3% of the Canadian population. This conclusion resolves

a debate that has been going on for many years around the treatment of

COPD patients;

- Electroacupuncture can bring some relief from chemotherapy-induced

nausea and vomiting. Reducing nausea and vomiting is key to improving

the quality of life of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy;

- Treating recurrent miscarriage, a problem affecting up to two out of

every one hundred couples, with immunotherapy does not work and is an

expensive treatment with potential serious side-effects. The Cochrane

review authors concluded that women should no longer be offered these



These are just four of over 2,500 systematic reviews produced by The

Cochrane Collaboration and published online in The Cochrane Library


"Systematic reviews are the best way to ensure patients benefit from the

knowledge generated through the thousands of clinical trials conducted

internationally every year," said Jeremy Grimshaw, Director, Canadian Cochrane

Network and Centre. "CIHR support for the Cochrane Collaboration is

contributing to a Canadian health research culture that understands the value

of systematic reviews, and will lead to a more evidence-based health system."

The more than $7 million in CIHR funding will support the Canadian

Cochrane Centre, eight Cochrane groups working in specific areas of healthcare

and research, and 18 local network sites supporting researchers in every

Province and Territory across Canada. The Canadian Cochrane Centre

collaborates with 21 affiliated Canadian healthcare organizations, including

health professional groups, consumer groups and research agencies.

Funding for the Canadian activities of The Cochrane Collaboration is

being provided in partnership with the Canadian Agency for Drugs and

Technologies in Health (CADTH) as well as the CIHR Institutes of Health

Services and Policy Research, Neurosciences Mental Health and Addiction,

Gender and Health, Human Development Child and Youth Health, Nutrition

Metabolism and Diabetes, and Infection and Immunity.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of

Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new

scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health,

more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian

health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and

support to more than 10,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.


The Cochrane Collaboration is a unique, not-for-profit organization that

aims to help people make well-informed decisions by preparing, maintaining and

promoting the accessibility of systematic reviews of the effects of healthcare

interventions. Abstracts of Cochrane systematic reviews are available free of

charge at www.cochrane.org. Access to the full text of Cochrane systematic

reviews is available through The Cochrane Library at

www.thecochranelibrary.com. The Cochrane Library is free of charge in the

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Yukon, and to health

professionals in Nova Scotia. Access is also available to most Canadian health

professionals working in academic or healthcare centres, and otherwise by

subscription. Members of the media may request full access to the contents of

the Library.

For further information: contact: Marie-France Poirier, CIHR Media

Relations, (613) 941-4563

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