McMaster University and the Faculty of Health Sciences are renowned for their leading role in the development of evidence-based medicine, so it’s not surprising that faculty members and students have dedicated themselves to sharing COVID-19 evidence in easy-to-access ways.
Here are a few examples:
Created to help health- and social-system leaders as they respond to unprecedented challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the McMaster Health Forum and its partners at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute have developed and now continuously maintain a guide to COVID-19 evidence sources.
The Forum and OHRI also jointly co-lead the secretariat for the COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-making (COVID-END), which has come together to help coordinate and reduce duplication in evidence synthesis, health technology assessment and guideline activities spanning the full gamut of COVID-19 issues.
“If every group plays to their comparative advantages and works together to support coordination and avoid duplication, we can make a big difference in minimizing the human suffering being caused by COVID-19,” said John Lavis, director of the McMaster Health Forum and professor of the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact.
“We will also be optimally positioned for addressing the more everyday challenges that we will return to when the worst of COVID-19 is behind us.”
COVID-19 EvidenceAlerts (C-19EA) at https://plus.mcmaster.ca/COVID-19/ has been launched by McMasterPLUS, a premium literature service database produced by the Health Information Research Unit.
C-19EA studies and performs systematic reviews on clinical care evidence. This is appraised for scientific merit by expert research staff, with qualifying articles rated by frontline clinicians for relevance and newsworthiness to provide the current best evidence to support clinical decisions. The service is updated daily for articles published the preceding day. Articles that do not meet the criteria for scientific merit or clinical relevance are also listed, with at least one reason for concern about their value for clinical decisions.
“This unprecedented pandemic is accompanied by tumultuous research production of any sort, and the need for separating trustworthy and flawed studies is more important than ever,” said Alfonso Iorio, professor of the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact and the Department of Medicine. He is director of the Health Information Research Unit.
“Normally, we would only focus on best evidence published on top journals, which is what matters; with COVID-19 Evidence Alerts, however, we are reviewing all clinical care research that is published on PubMed, to give physicians an assessment of the quality and clinical relevance of studies that they may otherwise be receiving via un-appraised sources such as tweets or other channels.”
A group of McMaster medical students has created a tool aimed at providing convenient access to published papers on COVID-19. The COVID-19 Literature Review features high-quality articles that are reviewed and organized by specialty and type by the medical students.
“Clinicians and researchers can use this resource to access relevant COVID-19 publications and guidelines,” said Becky Jones, a second-year medical student at McMaster’s Niagara Regional Campus and project lead. “We are adding publications continuously as they are released on PubMed.”
Maureen Dobbins, professor of nursing and lead of the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT), is collecting research questions for rapid evidence reviews related to COVID-19. Their database continues to grow daily: https://www.nccmt.ca/knowledge-repositories/covid-19-evidence-reviews. For each new entry, NCCMT searches to identify and share existing published or in-progress evidence syntheses. NCCMT has also joined COVID-END https://www.mcmasterforum.org/networks/covidend, a global initiative coordinating COVID-19 evidence syntheses and supporting decision-makers. Dobbins is co-chair of one of the initiative’s seven working groups.
Working together, McMaster Bachelor of Health Sciences students and medical students under the leadership of faculty member Constantine Samaan have created a website dedicated to bringing together high-quality information about COVID-19 for children with diabetes and their families. The website delivers content from credible resources around the world, with an emphasis on data from Canadian agencies responding to the pandemic.
“We want to reduce the burden on families and children trying to find this information and allow them to access and use the information quickly to stay healthy,” said Samaan, associate professor of pediatrics at McMaster and staff physician in the division of pediatric endocrinology at McMaster Children’s Hospital.