Barriers to the registration and conduct of Cochrane systematic reviews of traditional East Asian medicine therapies

L. Susan Wieland, Ruth Brassington, Geraldine Macdonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Traditional East Asian medicine (TEAM) is widely used in Asia and increasingly in the West. Systematic reviews (SRs) are the best summaries of the potential benefits or harms of interventions, and Cochrane is a leading international SR organization. Cochrane perspectives on the barriers to the initiation and completion of Cochrane SRs of TEAM therapies were solicited.

Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs) were identified from the online listing of CRGs at and a link to an online survey was e-mailed to the primary contact for each CRG.

Forty-eight responses were received on behalf of 49/53 (92%) CRGs. Most CRGs had experience producing TEAM reviews, primarily in acupuncture or herbal medicine. The main barriers to taking on a new TEAM review were difficulty in understanding and assessing the intervention, and the low priority of TEAM topics. Problems with the quality and accessibility of randomized trials in TEAM were cited as a major concern. CRGs suggested that the quality and accessibility of randomized trials should be improved, that the methodological and language expertise of authors should be enhanced, and that further peer review expertise should be made available to CRGs.

TEAM topics are covered in Cochrane reviews but are often considered low-priority. This survey highlights Cochrane concerns about the quality of the underlying evidence base and the training of the author teams as barriers to successful SR completion. Specific approaches are proposed to increase the number of TEAM reviews and address the limitations of TEAM research processes within Cochrane.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101008
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Integrative Medicine
Early online date10 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for Research in Health and Social Care
  • SPS Centre for the Study of Poverty and Social Justice


  • traditional East Asian medicine
  • systematic reviews
  • Cochrane
  • survey
  • Barriers


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