From April 2013, Primary Health Care and Research Development, has introduced a new article type: the summary review of evidence. The journal has collaborated with the Cochrane Nursing Group in Australia to provide summaries of evidence based on Cochrane Reviews that will be of relevance to the discipline of academic primary care across all the professions.

The vast majority of nurses, midwives and GPs do not have time or inclination in their daily schedules to read, digest and implement the findings from full systematic reviews. The full review is often lengthy, difficult to digest because of the range of studies under discussion and confusing for those who are unfamiliar with the techniques of meta-analysis and synthesis. Systematic reviews provide a very useful reference point for those who are developing a new service standard or policy, undertaking a research degree or indentifying gaps in the knowledge base for new research proposals, but are unlikely to be the starting point for busy practitioners who just want to improve their day-to-day practice and provide better and more effective care.

A summary review of evidence can assist in overcoming some of the challenges of time and complexity. Through a process of distillation, the author of a summary review can apply critical appraisal skills ‘by proxy’ to provide a digest of the original studies under review, and to identify the key messages from the findings of the review in an accessible format that enables the time-pressed practitioner to consider the evidence in a manageable way.

By providing access to the summaries of evidence to busy practitioners and decision makers, we believe there is a stronger likelihood that knowledge accumulation and transfer to those who should ultimately benefit from research could be more readily achieved.

Read the three summaries published to date here:

Education for contraceptive use by women after childbirth

Psychological interventions for parents of children and adolescents with chronic illness

Pharmacological interventions for promoting smoking cessation during pregnancy


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