Archie Cochrane

Archie Cochrane

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Encyclopedia
Archibald Leman Cochrane (1909–1988) was a Scottish doctor whose name is synonymous with scientific method in medicine.

Biography


Cochrane was born in Kirklands, Galashiels
Galashiels
Galashiels is a burgh in the Scottish Borders, on the Gala Water river. The name is often shortened to "Gala" .Galashiels is a major commercial centre for the Scottish Borders...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. He qualified in 1938 at University College Hospital
University College Hospital
University College Hospital is a teaching hospital located in London, United Kingdom. It is part of the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and is closely associated with University College London ....

, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, at University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

 and joined the Medical Research Council
Medical Research Council (UK)
The Medical Research Council is a publicly-funded agency responsible for co-ordinating and funding medical research in the United Kingdom. It is one of seven Research Councils in the UK and is answerable to, although politically independent from, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills...

's Pneumoconiosis
Pneumoconiosis
Pneumoconiosis is an occupational lung disease and a restrictive lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust, often in mines.-Types:Depending upon the type of dust, the disease is given different names:...

 Unit at Llandough Hospital, a part of Cardiff University School of Medicine
Cardiff University School of Medicine
Cardiff University School of Medicine was founded in 1893 when the Departments of Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology, Pathology, Bacteriology were founded at University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire , in the same year. Students finishing their preclinical studies at Cardiff went on to...

 in 1948. Here he began a series of studies on the health of the population of Rhondda Fach — studies which pioneered the use of randomised controlled trials
Randomized controlled trial
A randomized controlled trial is a type of scientific experiment - a form of clinical trial - most commonly used in testing the safety and efficacy or effectiveness of healthcare services or health technologies A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is a type of scientific experiment - a form of...

 (RCTs).

Cochrane’s experiences during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, where he served as a member of a British Ambulance Unit within the International Brigades
International Brigades
The International Brigades were military units made up of volunteers from different countries, who traveled to Spain to defend the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939....

, and later during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 as Medical Officer at a number of prisoner of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 camps, led him to believe that much of medicine did not have sufficient evidence to justify its use.

He said, "I knew that there was no real evidence that anything we had to offer had any effect on tuberculosis, and I was afraid that I shortened the lives of some of my friends by unnecessary intervention." As a result, he spent his career urging the medical community to adopt the scientific method.

Academic life


In 1960 he was appointed David Davies Professor of Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases at the Welsh National School of Medicine, now Cardiff University School of Medicine
Cardiff University School of Medicine
Cardiff University School of Medicine was founded in 1893 when the Departments of Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology, Pathology, Bacteriology were founded at University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire , in the same year. Students finishing their preclinical studies at Cardiff went on to...

 and nine years later became Director of the new Medical Research Council
Medical Research Council (UK)
The Medical Research Council is a publicly-funded agency responsible for co-ordinating and funding medical research in the United Kingdom. It is one of seven Research Councils in the UK and is answerable to, although politically independent from, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills...

’s Epidemiology Research Unit at 4 Richmond Road, Cardiff
Cardiff
Cardiff is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for...

.

His 1971 Rock Carling Fellowship monograph Effectiveness and Efficiency: Random Reflections on Health Services, first published in 1972, was very influential. These ideas and his advocacy of randomized controlled trials eventually led to the development of the Cochrane Library
Cochrane Library
The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases in medicine and other healthcare specialties provided by the Cochrane Collaboration and other organisations. At its core is the collection of Cochrane Reviews, a database of systematic reviews and meta-analyses which summarize and interpret the...

 database of systematic review
Systematic review
A systematic review is a literature review focused on a research question that tries to identify, appraise, select and synthesize all high quality research evidence relevant to that question. Systematic reviews of high-quality randomized controlled trials are crucial to evidence-based medicine...

s, the establishment of the UK Cochrane Centre in Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 and the international Cochrane Collaboration
Cochrane Collaboration
The Cochrane Collaboration is a group of over 28,000 volunteers in more than 100 countries who review the effects of health care interventions tested in biomedical randomized controlled trials. A few more recent reviews have also studied the results of non-randomized, observational studies...

.

Autobiography and archive


One Man's Medicine: An Autobiography of Professor Archie Cochrane was published in 1989 and co-authored by Professor Max Blythe. The book was out of print for a number of years but a paperback edition was published by Cardiff University
Cardiff University
Cardiff University is a leading research university located in the Cathays Park area of Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom. It received its Royal charter in 1883 and is a member of the Russell Group of Universities. The university is consistently recognised as providing high quality research-based...

 in April 2009 to celebrate the centenary of Cochrane's birth.

The Cochrane Archive is held at Llandough Hospital, Penarth
Penarth
Penarth is a town and seaside resort in the Vale of Glamorgan , Wales, 5.2 miles south west from the city centre of the Welsh capital city of Cardiff and lying on the north shore of the Severn Estuary at the southern end of Cardiff Bay...

.

See also

  • Evidence-based medicine
    Evidence-based medicine
    Evidence-based medicine or evidence-based practice aims to apply the best available evidence gained from the scientific method to clinical decision making. It seeks to assess the strength of evidence of the risks and benefits of treatments and diagnostic tests...