Wearing Cochrane evidence: a personal story of impact

Wearing Cochrane evidence: a personal story of impact

Rebecca Selby, a mum of four, shares how a Cochrane Review impacted her family.

When I unexpectedly went into premature labour with our second son at a little under 32 weeks' gestation, I was given steroid injections to give his lungs the best possible chance in the outside world. George spent almost a month in intensive care when he was born, spending some time on full ventilation and on continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), to help him to breathe. Throughout his time in hospital, George developed a series of infections and I am sure that the boost to his lungs from the steroid medication is what gave him the ability to overcome these difficulties and ultimately saved his life. It is unlikely that George would be our 12-year-old little boy now without the treatment that he received, a fact for which we will all be eternally grateful!

In September 2015 I started at The University of Manchester to study Biology with Science and Society. I learned about the meaning behind the Cochrane logo while conducting research over the course of my studies. Each horizontal line within the logo represents the results of one study, while the diamond shape represents the combined results. The best estimate of whether the treatment is effective or harmful is established in this way, through systematic review. In the Cochrane logo, the diamond sits clearly to the left of the vertical line. The diamonds’ position represents that treatment does not contribute to negative outcomes, which indicates that the treatment is beneficial. The visual representation of these results, the “forest plot”, within the Cochrane 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 George.

I was really drawn to the symbolism in this logo and the personal connection I have with it. The fact that all signs from the individual trials indicated that the treatment had little to no benefit until you step back and put all of the trial outcome information together in a systematic review 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, as a physical reminder of our own little miracle of medical science.

Thank you to all the Cochrane reviewers for making a difference to the lives of families, including mine.

Rebecca Selby (@BeccaSelby)


Tuesday, December 29, 2020