Systematic reviews (SRs) are important tools for evidence-informed guideline development. The extent to which Cochrane nutrition SRs have informed guidelines is unknown.
To describe the number and proportion of Cochrane nutrition SRs which have been cited in published health guidelines/guidance, per Cochrane Review Group (CRG), guideline developer, guideline type, and guideline publication year.
This was a retrospective analysis of citations of nutrition SRs in published health guidelines. We built a nutrition database by screening all active records in the Cochrane Database of SRs (31 December 2017) to identify nutrition reviews using prespecified eligibility criteria. We checked which of these were in Cochrane UK’s dataset of reviews used to inform evidence-based guidance worldwide. This resource is populated by checking online, open-access sources of accredited guidelines (those freely available at point of use) for the word 'Cochrane'. We coded results by date of guideline publication, type of guideline developer and guideline. We analysed data using descriptive statistics.
We included 569 (78.6%) completed reviews from 48 CRGs. Nutrition SRs were cited 919 times in 457 guidelines, including 386 (84%) clinical and 71 (16%) public health guidelines. National professional associations cited reviews most frequently (n = 327 in 161 guidelines), followed by national government agencies (n = 306 in 155), intergovernmental agencies (n = 84 in 37) and international professional associations (n = 72 in 43). Pregnancy and Childbirth (19%) reviews were cited most. The earliest citations of a nutrition SR identified in the dataset were in 2010 (n = 1) and 2012 (n = 47), and then as the sources searched expanded with open-access sources becoming available, increased sharply in 2013 (n = 144), 2014 (n = 208), 2015 (n = 195), and 2016 (n = 254).
The number of citations of Cochrane nutrition SRs identified in guidelines has increased from 2012, revealing a wide pattern of use of nutrition evidence, mostly by national professional associations, national government agencies and in clinical guidelines. These findings serve as proxy of the 'payback' on investment in nutrition evidence synthesis for informing guidelines to bridge the knowledge-to-action gap.
Healthcare consumer involvement:
Seeking consumers to co-code latest results.