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Coverage of mental health and substance misuse topics in the Cochrane review system

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 August 2012

S. Green-Hennessy*
Department of Psychology, Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA
Address for correspondence: Sharon Green-Hennessy, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, Loyola University Maryland, 4501 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21210, USA. (Email:



To assess the breadth of mental and substance coverage in the Cochrane review system.


All mental health and substance entries were identified from the 2005 to April 2012 Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.


A total of 1019 entries focused on mental health or substance misuse, with 698 (68.5%) being completed reviews. One out of every five entries focused on serious mental illness/psychosis. Systematic reviews addressing unipolar depression, dementia and certain substance disorders also appeared well-represented. In contrast, a number of impairing disorders frequently seen in practice received less attention, with bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and autism spectrum disorders each accounting for less than 2% of the entries. The majority of interventions reviewed involved medication (57.1%), although this was not the case for a number of childhood-onset disorders. Some diagnostic areas (sleep, anxiety, mood and substance) were addressed by multiple Cochrane review groups (CRGs).


The Cochrane Collaboration is well poised to be a strong guiding influence to those seeking to employ evidence-based mental health care. Broadening its diagnostic coverage and diversifying types of intervention reviewed would probably further maximize its impact. A more centralized and directed approach of prioritizing topics could help ensure more comprehensive coverage.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012 

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