Question prioritization process

Since mid-March 2020, Cochrane has been gathering some of the most important questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic from health researchers, clinicians, policymakers, patients and carers, as well as important external stakeholders including the World Health Organization (WHO), the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and guideline developers from different countries. Cochrane experts reviewed these questions in collaboration with health and policy decision-makers, resulting in Cochrane’s Question Bank, a resource that is now being made available to the global research community.

The Question Bank includes approximately 150 questions, categorized to allow users to see the questions being addressed by Cochrane (through a Rapid Review or a normal Systematic Review); those being addressed by other systematic reviewers; and those questions, to the best of our knowledge, that are not yet being addressed. 

Cochrane is not able to support and publish Rapid Reviews for all of these questions. Cochrane’s Editor in Chief, Karla Soares-Weiser, and Cochrane’s COVID-19 Working Group have used the categorization within the question bank to define Cochrane’s priority areas of work for the next phase of its response to the pandemic. The questions and issues to be addressed by Cochrane over the next six months were aligned with the taxonomy of the ‘COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-making’ (COVID-END), of which Cochrane is a leading member. The priority questions to be addressed by Cochrane evidence cover:  

  • Clinical management: including questions related to screening and testing, drug treatment, critical care, prophylaxis, prognosis and the clinical management of pandemic related impacts on health
  • Public health measures: including questions related to the prevention of infection, personal protection and the need to support healthcare workers; and
  • Economic and social responses: including questions related to the social determinants of health and their impact on health outcomes, and the impact of COVID-19 on food poverty.

View or download a more detailed diagram setting out these priority questions.

Each of Cochrane’s priority areas are being addressed through a range of planned outputs including Cochrane Rapid Reviews, new Cochrane ‘living’ Systematic Reviews and Network Meta-Analyses, all led by different consortia of Cochrane authors, Groups and Cochrane’s Central Editorial Team. The Cochrane Question Bank will be updated periodically to help decision-makers review progress and activity; and highlight new questions and topics to be addressed in future. 

More information about the authoring and editorial processes for COVID Rapid Reviews is available on the process for conducting a COVID Rapid Review page.