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Online dissemination of Cochrane reviews on digital health technologies: a cross-sectional study.

Systematic Reviews 2024 May 16
BACKGROUND: This cross-sectional study investigated the online dissemination of Cochrane reviews on digital health technologies.

METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews from inception up to May 2023. Cochrane reviews with any population (P), intervention or concept supported by any digital technology (I), any or no comparison (C), and any health outcome (O) were included. Data on review characteristics (bibliographic information, PICO, and evidence quality) and dissemination strategies were extracted and processed. Dissemination was assessed using review information on the Cochrane website and Altmetric data that trace the mentions of academic publications in nonacademic online channels. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and binary logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: Out of 170 records identified in the search, 100 Cochrane reviews, published between 2005 and 2023, were included. The reviews focused on consumers (e.g. patients, n = 86), people of any age (n = 44), and clinical populations (n = 68). All reviews addressed interventions or concepts supported by digital technologies with any devices (n = 73), mobile devices (n = 17), or computers (n = 10). The outcomes focused on disease treatment (n = 56), health promotion and disease prevention (n = 27), or management of care delivery (n = 17). All reviews included 1-132 studies, and half included 1-10 studies. Meta-analysis was performed in 69 reviews, and certainty of evidence was rated as high or moderate for at least one outcome in 46 reviews. In agreement with the Cochrane guidelines, all reviews had a plain language summary (PLS) that was available in 3-14 languages. The reviews were disseminated (i.e. mentioned online) predominantly via X/Twitter (n = 99) and Facebook (n = 69). Overall, 51 reviews were mentioned in up to 25% and 49 reviews in 5% of all research outputs traced by Altmetric data. Dissemination (i.e. higher Altmetric scores) was associated with bibliographic review characteristics (i.e. earlier publication year and PLS available in more languages), but not with evidence quality (i.e. certainty of evidence rating, number of studies, or meta-analysis performed in review).

CONCLUSIONS: Online attention towards Cochrane reviews on digital health technologies is high. Dissemination is higher for older reviews and reviews with more PLS translations. Measures are required to improve dissemination of Cochrane reviews based on evidence quality.

SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: The study was prospectively registered at the Open Science Framework ( ).

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