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‘It is surely a great criticism of our profession…’ The next 20 years of equity-focused systematic reviews
  1. M Petticrew1,2,3,
  2. V Welch3,
  3. P Tugwell4,5,6
  1. 1Bruyere Research Institute, University of Ottawa, Canada
  2. 2Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of Ottawa, Canada
  3. 3Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4Departments of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  5. 5Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  6. 6Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mark Petticrew, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 15-17 Tavistock Sq, London WC1H 9SH, UK; Mark.Petticrew{at}

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The Cochrane Collaboration has been celebrating 20 years of its existence throughout 2013. For 20 years it has aimed to support policymakers, practitioners and patients in making better-informed decisions about healthcare and public health. Founded in 1993, it remains the largest global network of scientists, researchers, health policymakers and consumer advocates involved in the production of systematic reviews of healthcare evidence.

For those involved in public health decision making, health equity continues to be a pivotal concern. Systematic reviews like those produced by Cochrane help identify potentially effective interventions, as well as identifying interventions that risk increasing inequity as an unintended consequence.1 ,2 Much relevant evidence on social determinants of health inequity now derives from systematic reviews, though in general there is not much of an equity perspective in clinical and public health research, although this is changing. The Cochrane and Campbell Equity Methods Group was set up to address this gap as well as to develop methods and improve reporting. This group has led initiatives to systematically consider equity in priority setting3 ,4 and to define personal and population characteristics across which equity might be important using the PROGRESS framework (Place of residence, Race/ethnicity/language/culture; Occupation, Gender/sex, Religion, Occupation, Socioeconomic status and social capital).5

However, these are initial steps and there are many remaining priorities for the next 20 years. On the equity front there …

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  • Contributors MP wrote the first draft. VW and PT reviewed and revised the subsequent and final drafts.

  • Competing interests The authors are co-ordinators of the Campbell & Cochrane Equity Methods Group.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.