Re: CITATION: Who is a community health worker? ­ a systematic review of definitions

Abimbola OOlaniran, Helen Smith, Regine Unkels, Sarah Bar-Zeev & Nynke van den Broek

Article: 1272223 | Received 30 Aug 2016, Accepted 08 Dec 2016, Published online: 27 Jan 2017

Thank you again for your paper. I was interested to note the selection of papers for inclusion in the systematic review.

As you state in the paper: ‘Due to resource and time limitations, we only included papers published in English and missed opportunities to review definitions of CHWs included in papers published in other languages (e.g. studies from francophone West Africa or Latin America).’

It is quite understandable that you had to work with available resources. However, there are arguably some kinds of research where the non-English literature could tell us a great deal. This perhaps includes research for objectives such as yours ‘to identify the common themes in the definitions and descriptions of CHWs that will aid delineation within this cadre and distinguish CHWs from other healthcare providers’. I wonder if there is scope for the systematic review team to be expanded to include French, Spanish, Portuguese and other-speaking researchers?

This brings in a wider question about multilingualism and systematic reviews (two subjects that we are planning to explore in depth later this year on HIFA). What are the challenges of multilingualism for systematic reviewers, and how can these challenges be better addressed?

The Cochrane network – with thousands of systematic reviewers across the world – is ideally positioned to enable multilingual systematic reviews, and yet I think most systematic reviews draw only from English-language publications? Can anyone from Cochrane or elsewhere comment on this?

Best wishes, Neil

Let’s build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare knowledge – Join HIFA: