Background: Cochrane Africa (africa.cochrane.org/) aims to increase Cochrane Reviews addressing high-priority questions on the African continent. We observed that often researchers residing in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), despite often drawing on Cochrane methodology, conduct and publish systematic reviews outside of Cochrane.
Objectives: to investigate the extent to which Cochrane authors from SSA publish Cochrane and non-Cochrane reviews.
Methods: using Archie, Cochrane’s contact database, we identified all Cochrane authors who reside or have an affiliation in a SSA country. We searched PubMed to identify systematic reviews (SRs) and overviews of SRs on human health (excluding protocols and scoping reviews) published by them since 2008. We extracted details on country of origin, whether it was a Cochrane or non-Cochrane review, whether the first and last authors were SSA Cochrane authors, and the type of review (e.g. intervention, diagnostic, qualitative). One author extracted data in Microsoft Excel, and another author checked those data. We used descriptive statistics to analyse data. We kept the identity and affiliations of the SSA Cochrane authors confidential.
Results: we searched Archie on 10 April 2019. We identified 657 Cochrane authors from 19 of 48 SSA countries (Figure 1). Twenty-nine countries have no Cochrane authors. Most Cochrane authors are from South Africa (n = 332; 51%), followed by Nigeria (n = 126; 19%), Kenya (n = 38; 6%), Uganda (n = 33; 5%), and Cameroon (n = 29; 4%). Twenty-one (3%) SSA Cochrane authors either come from (or reside in) a high-income country but have an affiliation with a SSA country, or are originally from a SSA country but work (or reside) in a high-income country.
We searched PubMed for a pilot sample of 10% of the SSA Cochrane authors (n = 66). This yielded 118 unique eligible reviews, with 74 (63%) and 66 (56%) having a SSA Cochrane author as first and last author, respectively. Sixty-eight (58%) are Cochrane Reviews and 50 (42%) are non-Cochrane reviews. The proportion of intervention reviews among Cochrane Reviews is 97% (66/68), compared to 44% (22/50) among non-Cochrane reviews.
This project is ongoing and will be completed by the time of the Cochrane Colloquium.
Conclusion: for Cochrane Africa it is critical to learn from missed opportunities for authors from SSA to conduct Cochrane Reviews. This baseline project will be followed by a survey of these authors to understand their reasons for conducting non-Cochrane reviews, their experience in doing so, and assessing barriers to and opportunities for increasing the conduct of Cochrane Reviews. We will also seek suggestions from Cochrane Review Groups on how to facilitate the conduct of more Cochrane Reviews on regionally relevant topics.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: we did not involve consumers in the conduct of this study.