Evidence synthesis

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine's Cochrane Infectious Disease Group has developed a portfolio of priority evidence-based reviews to help underpin the policies of COUNTDOWN. This includes:

 -Examination of the underpinning research for key ingredients of the MDA policies

- Examination of what is known from the existing literature about using CHWs in vertical programmes

- Work with partners who have identified practical research questions in constructing appropriate protocols for systematic reviews. 

Well-conducted, up-to-date systematic reviews provide “best evidence” when answering healthcare questions about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and researchers, clinicians, and public health policymakers can use findings from these reviews to inform their thinking. There are now a substantive number of high-quality systematic reviews in NTDs, some of which – including the review of albendazole for filariasis and the review of community deworming programmes – have generated considerable debate. There is evidence that the field of NTDs has historically tended to ignore evidence from trials when formulating policies(link is external).

There is, therefore, a need for researchers to know how to identify, read, appraise, interpret, and carry out systematic reviews. We are also exploring collaboration with specialists in evidence synthesis to summarise literature around community responses to mass drug administration programmes. This theme aims to help inform the planned applied social science and health economics work and provide a base for synthesising the outputs of these components.

Activities in this area include: an assembly of a special collection(link is external) of Cochrane NTD reviews; an update of the Cochrane review of community deworming programmes for soil transmitted helminths(link is external); participation in the global debate on mass deworming(link is external) compared with treating children with symptomatic infection; updating of Cochrane NTD reviews(link is external) via the infectious diseases group; and one to one support and training to COUNTDOWN researchers on carrying out systematic reviews.

The Evidence synthesis team has provided training in-country on evidence synthesis techniques and are working with country partners to identify evidence gaps and different types of evidence synthesis that could fill those gaps; including looking at how evidence can best support policy makers and how policy makers use evidence.