Twenty years of progress and still leading – congratulations to the Cochrane Collaboration on achieving this milestone while advancing research in health care and in nursing. As a global leader in research, the Collaboration has paved the way for the delivery of high-quality information about the effectiveness of health care. The Cochrane Collaboration is an international network of more than 31,000 people from over 120 countries working together and dedicated to helping health professionals, patients, policy makers and advocates make healthcare decisions based on the best, current evidence. The Collaboration is named after Archie Cochrane (1909–1988), who advocated the use of randomized controlled trials as a means of informing healthcare practice. The Collaboration produces systematic reviews that form the basis internationally for informed decision-making in health care. Patients benefit directly from improvements in quality of care because the best evidence is translated into clinical practice.
Nursing has embraced evidence-based practice as a model for clinical decision-making. Evidence-based practice is a problem-solving method based on the systematic and diligent application of current research to inform practice (Pearson et al. 2011). The Cochrane Collaboration has produced over 5,000 systematic reviews that have yielded valuable scientific evidence and these studies are published online in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Although initially seen as focusing on the medical professions, the Cochrane Collaboration has expanded to augment nursing with the establishment of the Cochrane Nursing Care Field (CNCF) – to which we both belong – in 2009. The CNCF promotes systematic reviews that have a direct impact on nursing.
Readers of JAN appreciate the advantages of evidence-based practice. New knowledge and evidence inform advanced practice for nursing and propel improvements in education, management and professional policy initiatives in health care. Nursing care is enhanced and the international audience of nurses interested in evidence synthesis is enriched by the development and distribution of systematic research. JAN contributes to scholarly dissemination by regularly publishing systematic reviews like the recent article that reported advanced practice nurses in long-term care facilities are effective in improving satisfaction of family members and reducing patient complications such as depression, incontinence and pressure ulcer formation in older residents (Donald et al. 2013). Systematic reviews provide a rigorous explanation of current knowledge, a robust analysis of evidence and strategies for sharing scholarship in clinical practice and policy formation. Another example of scholarship is the systematic review authored by Hamel and Robbins (2013) that found Web-based interventions can improve eating behaviour and diet-related physical outcomes among children and adolescents, especially when conducted in schools and designed individually. They went further to advise that the results of the interventions may not be sustained over time without reinforcement. Nurses can apply this science in patient care, in education and in developing policy. The value of evidence synthesis is easily recognized as essential to the professional growth of nursing as a discipline.
In the future, nursing will be guided by theory development and sound research methods to produce evidence that challenges conventional thinking and practice. There is a growing demand for verifiable healthcare facts that can be trusted, and ideas that improve health care. We are assured that the Cochrane Collaboration and its partners in evidence dissemination will continue to promote new nursing science. Unlimited opportunities await as we strive to practise high-quality nursing care with treatments and interventions based on accurate evidence.