Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions

Update September 2018 - Version 6 

We are pleased to announce good progress on the major update of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, Version 6. A second edition of the book version of the Handbook will be published by Wiley in mid 2019. In addition, an online version will provide additional chapters and supplementary material. A number of chapters are either complete or nearly complete. We are making available draft PDF versions of these chapters to Cochrane members (Login required) to coincide with the Edinburgh Colloquium. A full list of Version 6 chapters and those available to view, are here. Current version available below.

Click here to browse Handbook version 5.1 online

The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions is the official guide that describes in detail the process of preparing and maintaining Cochrane systematic reviews on the effects of healthcare interventions. The current complete version of the Handbook is 5.1 (updated March 2011), edited by Julian Higgins and Sally Green.

All authors should consult the Handbook for guidance on the methods used in Cochrane systematic reviews. The Handbook includes guidance on the standard methods applicable to every review (planning a review, searching and selecting studies, data collection, risk of bias assessment, statistical analysis, GRADE and intepreting results), as well as more specialised topics (non-randomized studies, adverse effects, economics, patient-reported outcomes, individual patient data, prospective meta-analysis, qualitative research, reviews in public health and overviews of reviews).

We produced a limited number of Version 5.2 chapters in PDF format only. These chapters are 1, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 21 and are available as pdf versions for Cochrane members. These chapters only include minor edits to improve clarity, some limited new material and updating. There are currently no substantive changes to methods in these chapters. For more details see the What's new? page.

Click here for selected new chapters from Handbook v5.2 (login required)

Official translations of the Handbook are also available in Spanish and Simplified Chinese (see links above right).

Further information is also available about the Handbook including supplementary material, information about what's new in each version, updates and corrections and more.

You can also access the Handbook in the following ways:

  • In RevMan: the Handbook can be accessed offline through the Help menu of Cochrane's review production software.
  • The MECIR standards manual links standards to their relevant Handbook chapters
  • As a textbook: Version 5.0.2 of the Handbook was published in by Wiley-Blackwell in September 2008 and is still available for sale. Note that this is no longer the most current version of the Handbook, and readers should consult the What's New section for more information.

  • Printable (PDF) versions of all chapters (Version 5.2) are available to registered Cochrane contributors (Archie login required).

Glossary of Cochrane terms

Our Glossary includes definitions of methodological and organisational terms as used by Cochrane.

Contact the Editors

For further information and for any Handbook enquiries please contact:

The Handbook editorial team now includes: Julian Higgins and  James Thomas (Senior Scientific Editors); Tianjing Li, Matthew Page and Vivian Welch (Associate Scientific Editors); Miranda Cumpston (Implementation Editor); Jackie Chandler (Managing Editor); and Laura Mellor (Editorial Assistant). The Handbook Editorial Team structure is available here [PDF]. Rachel Churchill (Senior Editor) and Toby Lasserson (Associate Scientific Editor) have stepped down and we would like to thank them both for their contributions to the Handbook.

How to cite the Handbook

Higgins JPT, Green S (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from

Details of how to cite individual chapters are available in each chapter.

How to link to specific sections of the Cochrane Handbook (online version)

Here you can find instructions on how to create hyperlinks for specific sections of the online version of the Cochrane Handbook.

Previous versions

Archived copies of the following previous versions of the Handbook are available:

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