I recently listened to a really interesting talk given by Dr M Lunn at the GBS Annual Conference about the Cochrane Collaboration. He explained the organisations work very well, and it was informative.
The concept behind the Cochrane work is very valid - the meta-analysis of all the papers on a particular topic, and has produced some results which have had a significant impact on clinical practise.
Since the publishers Wiley agreed to make the content public, it had effectively become a possible resource for patients to access. Addressing this, the GBS Support Group have funded lay interpretations of reports relevant to GBS so patients benefit from the wealth of information. The site has already got summary podcasts and some lay explanations, so it heading in the right direction!
They have also recently published a book, The Knowledgeable Patient: Communication and Participation in Health, which details how to use evidence to improve communication and produce better healthcare outcomes. The author Dr Hill says “Communication in health is not taken seriously enough. Statistics show poor communication between health professionals and patients or their families has led to adverse consequences for the patient and higher costs to the health system. . . . Research is telling us that communication is critical to health and to a person’s ability to manage their health."
“Communication is the most common ‘intervention’ in the health system. But as a society we don’t usually see it this way. Evidence is building to show the different impacts. For example, passive ways of informing people about safe medicine use are not as effective as more active ways. Evidence like this should have an impact on health policy and health actions at all levels – from an individual taking preventive health actions, to health professionals and consumers making decisions together, up to people contributing to new policies.”