Cochrane's 30 under 30: Petter Brattström

Cochrane is made up of 13,000 members and over 50,000 supporters who come from more than 130 countries, worldwide. Our volunteers and contributors are researchers, health professionals, patients, carers, people passionate about improving health outcomes for everyone, everywhere.

Cochrane is an incredible community of people who all play their part in improving health and healthcare globally. We believe that by putting trusted evidence at the heart of health decisions we can achieve a world of improved health for all.

Many of our contributors are young people working with Cochrane as researchers, citizen scientists, medical students, and volunteer language translators and we want to recognize the work of this generation of contributors as part of this series called, Cochrane’s “30 under 30."

In this series, we will interview 30 young people, 30 years old or younger who are contributing to Cochrane activities in a range of ways, all promoting evidence-informed health decision making across the world.

Name: Petter Brattström
Age: 26
Occupation: Last year Medical Student
Programe: Medical Programme at the Faculty of Medicine, Lund University Sweden

How did you first hear about Cochrane?  Why did you chose to work/volunteer for Cochrane?
I first heard about Cochrane during my preclinical studies. Cochrane reviews were often mentioned when discussing medical evidence at lectures about research methodology. I remember finding the systematic approach appealing, however I did not know about the possibilities of getting involved with the organisation.

How did you become involved with Cochrane? What is your background?
I am a last year medical student at Lund University in Sweden, graduating January 2019. I have a strong interest in health in general and evidence-based medicine particularly.

When planning my master’s thesis, I had the luck of coming into contact with Matteo Bruschettini, director of the newly founded Cochrane Sweden. He introduced me to and involved me in the work of Cochrane and later came to supervise my thesis, a systematic review about caffeine treatment in preterm infants.

What do you do in Cochrane?
I am a new Cochrane member! I began my Cochrane experience with a four-week training period as an intern in Krems an der Donau at Cochrane Austria where I was excellently introduced to the methodology of systematic reviews and meta-analysis. This was the start of a 20-week research project at Cochrane Sweden. As of yet I have co-authored two systematic reviews, one as part of my master’s thesis. I have also worked on how to recruit and engage students in Cochrane, as Cochrane Sweden is a new and expanding Associate Centre.

What specifically do you enjoy about working for Cochrane and what have you learnt?
What I find most inspiring, enjoyable and rewarding, apart from being part of a global network and meeting engaged people, is how enlightening and informative it is to work with Cochrane. I think that I have learnt a lot about evidence synthesis and also about medical research in general, which is useful both as a clinician and a researcher, e.g. how to design high-quality clinical trials or how to critically review scientific papers.

What are your future plans?
I look forward to learn more about systematic reviews and methodology. My future plans are to continue my medical training and work as clinician. Hopefully, I will be able to combine this with clinical research and evidence synthesis with Cochrane Sweden. My hope is that I, in the future, can help to improve the way evidence-based medicine is implemented in everyday healthcare.

In your personal experience, what one thing could Cochrane do better to improve its global profile?
My period as an intern at a Cochrane Centre abroad was a truly positive experience. It would be great if Cochrane could provide some kind of platform and funding for internship exchanges or electives as it would make internships like my own more available. Through this, students and novel researchers could gain experience and learn methodology as well as establish international connections improving the global profile of the collaboration.

What do you hope for Cochrane for the future?
I hope that Cochrane continues to be a developing and including organisation open to new as well as varying people and ideas. Cochrane Library should be the obvious source of information when looking for trustworthy medical evidence, regardless if you are a researcher, clinician, policy maker, patient, or just anyone with an interest in evidence-based research. Moreover, I think it is important to introduce evidence-based medicine to future clinicians early, making it a natural part of everyday clinical work and ultimately providing evidence-based healthcare to patients.

Additionally, with my current perspective as a medical student, I hope that more undergraduate students will become involved in the work of Cochrane in the future. Hopefully, the initiative to launch Cochrane Interactive Learning as part of the medical training at Lund University this year can inspire other universities to do the same.

How important is it that young people get involved in Cochrane?
It is fundamental!

Why is this, do you think?
I would like to paraphrase the cliché of young people being the future. Young people come with new ideas, new perspectives and new enthusiasm, and are an essential part of keeping Cochrane progressive and evolving. Through the many initiatives of Cochrane, such as Cochrane Crowd, it is very possible for young and inexperienced people to contribute to the organisation.

What would your message be to other young people who want to get involved with Cochrane’s work but not sure where to start….?
My message would be to take chances, be open to new experiences and do not be afraid to ask questions and to show interest! To be a bit more concrete, they should get in contact with their local Cochrane Centre, investigate the option of Cochrane Crowd, Cochrane Task Exchange or check out Students 4 Best Evidence, a community for students interested in evidence-based research with some really useful learning tools and sources of inspiration.