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Systematic Reviews & Other Review Types

What is a Rapid Review?

"Rapid reviews are a form of evidence synthesis that may provide more timely information for decision making compared with standard systematic reviews." (AHRQ)  The methods of conducting rapid reviews varies widely, and are typically done in less than 5 weeks.   A rapid review speeds up the systematic review process by omitting stages of the systematic review making it less rigorous.  

Rapid Reviews are best designed for:

  • Broader PICO questions
  • New or emerging research topics
  • Updates of previous reviews
  • Critical topics
  • To assess what is already known about a policy or practice using some systematic review methods.

How a Rapid Review Differs from a Systematic Review

Timeframe: ≤ 5 weeks (varies) 

Question: More flexibility for broader questions, may use PICO

Sources and searches: Sources are limited due to time constraints of searching, however still uses transparent and reproducible search methods.

Selection: Based on inclusion/exclusion criteria

Appraisal: Critical and rigorous but time limited

Synthesis: Descriptive summary or categorization of data, may still be quantitative

(Source: Khangura S. et al. (2012) Evidence summaries: the evolution of a rapid review approach)

Limitations of a Rapid Review

  • Search is not as comprehensive
  • In come cases, there may only be one reviewer.
  • Possible non-blinded appraisal and selection
  • Limited/cautious interpretation of the findings
  • No universally accepted definition of a "rapid review"
  • Be mindful of limitations and potential biases when cutting corners.
  • Can impact policy and practice but systematic reviews are still needed
  • You still need a content expert and those experienced with systematic reviews

(Source: Cochrane: Rapid Reviews-An Introduction (2014))

Other names for a Rapid Review

Rapid Evidence Review, Rapid Evidence Assessment, Rapid Systematic Review, Expedited Review, Rapid Evidence Summary

Temple Attribution

Adapted with permission from Temple University Libraries.

Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and College of Pharmacy
Harlem Campus 230 West 125th Street New York, NY 10027 (212) 851-1199