Plenary session overview

Speakers for Plenary Sessions will be updated as they are confirmed.

Plenary Session 1: Equity Matters: Cochrane’s Next Frontier

Tuesday 22 October 2019, 09:00-10:30

Cochrane has prioritized health equity as part of its new content strategy for all Cochrane reviews because health is inextricably linked with social determinants of health.  At the heart of this strategy, we recognize that averages may obscure differences in health outcomes across diverse populations that can worsen or perpetuate health inequities. In this session, we will look at the imperative for evidence on equity from decision-makers, how Cochrane is responding to these needs and the rewards and challenges of using these methods in reviews.

Dr. Jeanette Vega

Dr. Jeanette Vega (MD, MPH, PhD) is the Chief Medical and Innovation Officer at Red de Salud UC-Christus, the main private health provider in Chile. She has over 20 years of experience in international health. Her areas of expertise include social determinants of healthy, health equity and health systems. She is the former Director of FONASA, the National Chilean Public Health Insurance Agency, as part of President Bachelet´s government, between 2014 and March 2018 and former Vice Minister of health, between 2008 and 2010. She has served as as Managing Director of Health at the Rockefeller Foundation between 2011 and 2014. Previously she was a Director at the World Health Organization in Geneva, where she led the equity in health agenda, and the Commission on Social Determinants of Health Secretariat, established in March 2005 to support countries and global health partners in addressing the social factors leading to ill health and health inequities. 

Dr. Peter Tugwell

Dr. Peter Tugwell (OC, LRCP, MRCS, MD, MSc, FRCPS, FRCP [UK], FCAHS) is Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology & Community Medicine at the University of Ottawa and is a practicing rheumatologist at the Ottawa Hospital. In 2001, he became Director for the Centre for Global Health at the University of Ottawa. He has built a research program and multidisciplinary team around his Canada Research Chair in Health Equity. Dr. Tugwell was Founding Director of the International Clinical Epidemiology Network Training Centre at McMaster University [1982-91] and currently serves as Secretary General to INCLEN's North American group (CanUSAClen). Dr. Tugwell is co-director of a WHO Collaborating Centre for Knowledge Translation & Health Technology Assessment in Equity. Dr. Tugwell is Coordinating Editor of the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Review Group and is Founding Co-convenor of the Cochrane Health Equity Field/Campbell Equity Methods Group and serves on the Steering Committee of the Campbell Collaboration.

Dr. Beibei Yuan

Dr. Beibei Yuan (MD, PhD) is an Associate Professor in Peking University China Center for Health Development Studies. She got her PhD in management from Shandong University in 2011, and worked in Peking University and Karolinska Institutet as postdoctoral fellow from 2011-2013. She continued research on evidence-based method in the areas of health system and policies, including development of appropriate methodology on evidence synthesis, conducting of systematic reviews on specific health system and policy research topics, like strategies for expanding health insurance coverage, payment methods evaluation, interventions to reduce inequalities in maternal health, and the equity consequences of health policies. She also has experience teaching courses related to systematic review or evidence synthesis. Her research interests also include incentives and motivation of health workers in primary health facilities, and the integration reform of primary healthcare system. She is a governance member of Emerging Voices for Global Health, expert member of WHO Alliance Health Systems Research Synthesis Advisory Group, expert member of China Delegation for World Health Assembly on the areas of WHO financing and Universal Health Coverage, and the committee member of China Young Scholars Federation of Health Management Researches.

Session Co-Chairs: Dr. Tamara Lofti and Dr. Lawrence Mbuagbaw

Dr. Tamara Lofti (MD, MPH) is the Coordinator of the Global Evidence Synthesis Initiative (GESI) Secretariat at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and a Research Associate at the Faculty of Medicine at AUB, Lebanon.  She received her Medical Doctor degree from Université Saint Joseph, Lebanon (2013) and her Master’s in Public Health concentrating in Epidemiology & Biostatistics (2016) at AUB. Within GESI, Tamara works towards enhancing the capacity in Low & Middle Income Countries in conducting and using Evidence Synthesis (ES) through online and face-to-face trainings, joint applications for funding and enhancing the representation of LMIC centres in discussions on and methods for ES. 

Dr. Lawrence Mbuagbaw (MD, MPH, PhD) is a Research Methods Consultant and assistant professor in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University. His research interests are study design, infectious diseases, mother and child health, mHealth, health systems strengthening, health equity and the intersection of these fields.

Plenary Session 2: Stakeholder Diversity

Wednesday 23 October 2019, 09:00-10:30

Considering the important role Cochrane plays in providing high-quality evidence that serves a variety of stakeholders, this plenary will provide an opportunity for the Cochrane community to hear from representatives of various groups. Speakers will include policy makers, clinicians, and consumers responding to the question, “How has Cochrane addressed your needs?”

Plenary Session 3: Embracing Methodological Diversity

Thursday 24 October 2019, 09:00-10:30

Speakers will address how to incorporate methodological diversity into Cochrane’s research agenda (e.g., qualitative methods, network metaanalysis, etc.)

As with primary research, systematic reviews ask questions from a variety of epistemological, ideological, and theoretical standpoints. This diversity reflects the different ways in which people ask and answer questions, and the numerous perspectives they have about those questions. Therefore, reviews may differ from each other in many ways along a number of dimensions such as their approach (and epistemology), their structure, and the way in which they are conceptualised. Cochrane has developed and consolidated methods that are primarily related to reviews of the effects of interventions and diagnostic test accuracy. However, a number of other areas relevant to decision maker questions have had different degrees of methodological development within and/or outside Cochrane.
Speakers (to be confirmed) will reflect on the relevance of the following diverse review methodologies for different stakeholders, and how Cochrane is currently addressing the challenge of incorporating and developing these review methods.

  • Broad methodological approach. 
  • Qualitative research and qualitative evidence synthesis. The potential contribution of qualitative evidence to decision-making is well established and a synthesis of such evidence (qualitative evidence synthesis) can add value by providing decision-makers with evidence to improve understanding of intervention complexity, contextual variation, implementation, and stakeholder preferences and experiences. However, there are a number of available methods that seems to require a wide range of expertise to be implemented and the selection of which of them should be used to answer a specific review question can be challenging.
  • Rapid reviews. These reviews have become prominent in the context of urgent decision-making processes in order to answer the time-sensitive needs of policymakers (and other decision makers). Although the concept is not novel, it remains a poorly understood and as yet ill-defined set of diverse methodologies supported by a paucity of published, available scientific literature. Additionally, there is tension between a timely response and ensuring that the scientific imperative of methodological rigour is satisfied.

Cochrane Lecture: The unbearable lightness of the Cochrane Collaboration

Friday 25 October 2019, 09:00-10:30

"Was it better to be with Tereza or to remain alone? There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison." -Milan Kundera

The Cochrane Collaboration has a diversity of choices - including decisions about our mission, principles, goals, and organisation. Like Tomáš in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, we have no basis for comparison. Assessing our choices depends on imagining what might have happened had alternative decisions been made. What might have happened had the Cochrane Collaboration made different choices, and what might happen in the future if we make different choices now?

Andy Oxman

Andy Oxman is a researcher in the Centre for Informed Health Choices at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. His research over the past three decades has focused on ways of helping people make informed choices about healthcare. He has helped to develop and evaluate ways to make research evidence more accessible and understandable, ways to enable people to assess health claims and make informed choices, and implementation strategies. His current research focuses primarily on developing and evaluating learning resources to enable people to assess claims about effects. He is particularly interested in resources for children and for people in low-income countries.