Advancing knowledge of rapid reviews: an analysis of results, conclusions and recommendations from published review articles examining rapid reviews

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  • Background: Rapid review (RR) products are inherently appealing as they are intended to be less time-consuming and resource-intensive than traditional systematic reviews (SRs); however, there is concern about the rigor of methods and reliability of results. In 2013 to 2014, a workgroup comprising representatives from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Evidence-based Practice Center Program conducted a formal evaluation of RRs. This paper summarizes results, conclusions, and recommendations from published review articles examining RRs. Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted and publications were screened independently by two reviewers. Twelve review articles about RRs were identified. One investigator extracted data about RR methods and how they compared with standard SRs. A narrative summary is presented. Results: A cross-comparison of review articles revealed the following: 1) ambiguous definitions of RRs, 2) varying time frames to complete RRs ranging from 1 to 12 months, 3) limited scope of RR questions, and 4) significant heterogeneity between RR methods. Conclusions: RR definitions, methods, and applications vary substantially. Published review articles suggest that RRs should not be viewed as a substitute for a standard SR, although they have unique value for decision-makers. Recommendations for RR producers include transparency of methods used and the development of reporting standards.

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International