Producing high quality synthesised evidence rapidly in relation to COVID-19 is clearly critical if researchers, clinicians, the public and policy makers are to make headway in understanding and managing this new coronavirus.
One key area being addressed by a Cochrane Rapid Review is: Quarantine alone or in combination with other public health measures to control COVID. The initial Rapid Review was published in April 2020. Within months, due to the sheer pace and volume of research being undertaken on COVID-19, an update was needed. The search for new evidence identified an eye-watering 5000 references to assess.
Enter Cochrane Crowd: Cochrane’s amazing community of citizen scientists, healthcare students, professionals and researchers who all work together to identify and describe health research.
The Crowd were tasked with assessing the new search results for potential relevance to the review. This task was more challenging than the usual Cochrane Crowd tasks as they were being asked to identify a range of different study designs (for example, modelling studies and observational studies as well as any relevant interventional studies).
Another key difference with this task was the time limit. Cochrane Crowd tasks for reviews usually come with a two-week deadline. For this task, the Crowd were given just 48 hours.
The Crowd completed the task within 22 hours, making over 17,000 individual classifications on records. Sixty-five crowd contributors took part with forty-five screening enough records to earn named acknowledgment in the review. Senior authors of the review, Barbara Nußbaumer-Steit and Gerald Gartlehner were very impressed: “Wow! That is amazing” and “That is incredible”.
Cochrane Crowd have been helping to identify studies for Cochrane reviews and for Cochrane’s Central Register of Controlled Trials for some time now. This new task helped to demonstrate the potential for increased Crowd involvement in reviews that include study designs other than randomised trials. It also demonstrated the speed at which this unflappable community can work when faced with important questions that need answering.
For more information about Cochrane Crowd, visit https://crowd.cochrane.org