Cochrane reviews are often used as a ‘gold standard’ for establishing whether a treatment can be regarded as efficacious. They are independent of practitioners/researchers. But they don’t always get it right, for example on the appropriateness of graded exercise for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Nevertheless there is a re-consideration of conclusions in the the light of the critique of others and they are for example going to post a qualifying note about their original conclusions on CFS. Whilst others including myself would wish that their original report was withdrawn, nevertheless one feels that there is an openness and objectivity. By contrast when it comes to evaluating whether treatments are effective in routine practice, as in IAPT, there is no such ‘Cochrane’, it feels much more like voicing dissent in some totalitarian regime. Those in power dominate the media, refuse to directly and openly debate and the juggernaut roles on, until one day it will implode and people will wonder why the writing on the wall was not heeded earlier!
Dr Mike Scott