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Second round of workshops for Stellenbosch Journalism students

Tuesday, 10 Oct 2017

The mission of Cochrane South Africa (SA) includes the dissemination of information on Cochrane and evidence-based healthcare (EBHC) to health stakeholders and the South African public. An obvious channel for such dissemination is the media. Cochrane SA therefore decided to target journalism students who are potential future health and science writers, and to introduce them to EBHC and systematic reviews, the Cochrane Library and other useful resources for developing future media products.

The first round of workshops were held in 2016 at the Faculty of Journalism, University of Stellenbosch (US) and Cochrane SA was delighted to be asked to return this year to repeat the exercise. The 2017 workshops involved 23 Journalism Honours students.

Two 2-hour sessions were organised with a gap in between allowing students to complete a homework assignment.


Topics covered included an introduction to EBHC and systematic reviews; an introduction to Cochrane; and, using the Cochrane Library. These were approached using various learning techniques including interactive lectures; videos; case scenarios, and exercises; practical demonstrations; and, small group work.

In the first session the students were introduced to a case scenario, shown how to find information on the review in the Cochrane Library and asked to discuss in groups how they would use this information for print media, TV, radio, and Twitter. At the end of this session they were given six topics and asked to prepare the steps they took to find the relevant evidence from the Cochrane Library; what the overall findings reported; their analysis of the evidence; and, their plan for how they would use this in a story. At the second session volunteers presented their work for discussion.

Future plans

Plans to undertake similar workshops at other universities were unfortunately affected by ‘Fees Must Fall’ protests in 2016.  However, now that the workshop has been further refined this experience and the positive feedback from the US faculty will be used to target other higher-education institutions in South Africa. 


This article was originally published in the Cochrane SA newsletter (August 2017) and is republished here with kind permission from Cochrane SA.