Background: since 2006, the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation’s (AAO-HNS/F), in conjunction with Elsevier in 2006/2009 and SAGE Publications, Inc, Cochrane Scholars Program has offered travel grants for AAO-HNS/F members to attend the Cochrane Colloquium, featuring full scientific programmes and training, and discussion workshops related to systematic reviews. Systematic reviews have a high citation rate and serve as the foundation for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, clinical performance measures, and maintenance of specialty certification. The programme is intended to raise awareness and expertise in systematic review among otolaryngologists. In exchange for receiving a travel grant, Cochrane Scholars agree to submit a systematic review to Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, the peer-reviewed journal of AAO-HNS/F. Additionally, the programme is predicated on financial support of the journal publisher, based on the ability of systematic reviews to raise the journal impact factor.
Objectives: AAO-HNS/F sought to better understand the results of the Cochrane Scholars Program with the 41 Cochrane Scholars. Analysis included the demographic makeup, subspecialty areas of concentration, systematic review publications, and AAO-HNS/F engagement in committees and leadership of the organization.
Methods: AAO-HNS/F Research and Quality staff compiled demographic data and membership engagement data on its Cochrane Scholars from self-reported information housed in the society’s iMIS member database. Basic descriptive statistics were performed on select demographic factors. Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery reported submissions from Cochrane Scholars to Research and Quality staff. Cochrane Scholars without reported submissions were searched in PubMed and Google Scholar for potential authorship of systematic reviews not submitted to Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
Results: a total of 41 AAO-HNS/F members have been awarded as Cochrane Scholars since the programme’s inception. Overall, 25 (61%) of these scholars are male, are an average age of 40.4 years at the time of their award, and 12 of the 21 scholars reporting their ethnicity (57%) were white. The scholars represented 11 unique otolaryngology subspecialties with rhinology being the most represented subspecialty amongst awardees. Scholars have also published a total of 26 systematic reviews and meta-analyses in otolaryngology subjects as part of their participation.
Conclusions: in all, the Cochrane Scholars Program has been successful in promoting the publication of otolaryngology systematic reviews and meta-analyses. However, improvements can be made to promote diversity within the programme.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: this presentation serves to demonstrate one method that other specialties can replicate to expand researcher diversity, engagement and provide high-quality evidence for clinical practice guidelines.