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New Resource Available

As part of the Consortium's role on the NCCAM grant to the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Field at the University of Maryland, and Rutgers School of Health Related Professions and New Jersey Medical School being a recipient of an IMPriME grant, Ben Kligler and Susan Gould-Fogerite recently collaborated with Lisa Susan Wieland from Maryland on an IMPriME faculty development webinar which is now available as a learning and teaching resource for all Consortium members.

A description and a link to the webinar are below. We hope you find it useful!

As the number of published studies on clinical interventions has increased during the past several decades, it has become increasingly difficult for individual clinicians to keep up with the literature. One approach to accessing and understanding the relevant evidence on a therapeutic question is to rely on the syntheses provided by systematic reviews. Systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials are considered the highest level of evidence in the evidence-based medicine (EBM) "hierarchy," and Cochrane reviews are often considered the gold standard for systematic reviews. This webinar will 1) present an overview of systematic reviews and the Cochrane Collaboration, 2) give some examples of Cochrane reviews related to complementary and integrative medicine, and 3) provide guidance on accessing Cochrane reviews and obtaining more information about the Cochrane Collaboration.

As part of our ongoing collaboration with the Cochrane CAM group at the University of Maryland, every three months we present the results of a recent Cochrane review for your consideration. Here is our spring selection!

Hao Q, Dong BR, Wu T. Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD006895. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006895.pub3.

Methods: After searching for all relevant trials in scientific databases, we identified 13 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) published up to July 2014. We could extract and pool data from 12 RCTs, which involved 3720 participants (both genders), including children, adults (aged around 40 years) and older people from Finland, Spain, Sweden, the United States, Croatia, Chile, Thailand and Japan.

Key results: Probiotics were found to be better than placebo in reducing the number of participants experiencing episodes of acute URTI by about 47% and the duration of an episode of acute URTI by about 1.89 days. Probiotics may slightly reduce antibiotic use and cold-related school absence. Side effects of probiotics were minor and gastrointestinal symptoms were the most common. The quality of the evidence is low or very low mainly due to poorly conducted trials, for example with unclear randomisation method and blinding. Some trials were supported by manufacturers of the tested probiotics and some trials had a very small sample size.

Conclusion: Overall, we found probiotics to be better than placebo in preventing acute URTIs. However, more trials are needed to confirm this conclusion.

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