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Evidence for perinatal and child health care guidelines in crisis settings: can Cochrane help?

Tari J Turner12*, Hayley Barnes3, Jane Reid2 and Marie Garrubba2

Author affiliations

1 Monash Institute of Health Services Research, Monash University, Locked Bag 29, Clayton 3168 Australia

2 Centre for Clinical Effectiveness, Southern Health, Locked Bag 29, Clayton 3168 Australia

3 previously of the Australasian Cochrane Centre, Monash University, Locked Bag 29, Clayton 3168 Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2010, 10:170  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-170

Published: 29 March 2010



It is important that healthcare provided in crisis settings is based on the best available research evidence. We reviewed guidelines for child and perinatal health care in crisis situations to determine whether they were based on research evidence, whether Cochrane systematic reviews were available in the clinical areas addressed by these guidelines and whether summaries of these reviews were provided in Evidence Aid.


Broad internet searches were undertaken to identify relevant guidelines. Guidelines were appraised using AGREE and the clinical areas that were relevant to perinatal or child health were extracted. We searched The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews to identify potentially relevant reviews. For each review we determined how many trials were included, and how many were conducted in resource-limited settings.


Six guidelines met selection criteria. None of the included guidelines were clearly based on research evidence. 198 Cochrane reviews were potentially relevant to the guidelines. These reviews predominantly addressed nutrient supplementation, breastfeeding, malaria, maternal hypertension, premature labour and prevention of HIV transmission. Most reviews included studies from developing settings. However for large portions of the guidelines, particularly health services delivery, there were no relevant reviews. Only 18 (9.1%) reviews have summaries in Evidence Aid.


We did not identify any evidence-based guidelines for perinatal and child health care in disaster settings. We found many Cochrane reviews that could contribute to the evidence-base supporting future guidelines. However there are important issues to be addressed in terms of the relevance of the available reviews and increasing the number of reviews addressing health care delivery.