A rapid review is conducted as an alternative to a systematic review when a review needs to be completed quickly.
Timeframes for conducting rapid reviews are considerably less than systematic reviews.
Rapid reviews follow the same methods and protocols as a systematic review, although components can be simplified and can be omitted if required. Which components are simplified or omitted are often determined by the nature of the topic or the types of information wanted by the organisation for which the review is being conducted, so there is no one correct way to conduct these types of reviews.
The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions states that systematic reviews have the following characteristics, and these also apply to rapid reviews:
Rapid reviews can be used for:
Rapid reviews are often completed internally for organisations and are often not published.
The following scoping review paper examines different methods used to conduct rapid reviews and provides details of a variety of ways that stages of the review may be adapted or omitted for rapid reviews.
Rapid reviews may also be known as:
Rapid reviews can differ from systematic and other more rigorous reviews in a number of ways:
|Shorter time frame allows for quicker outcomes.||Search is not as comprehensive, uses fewer databases or limits types of studies.|
|Only one reviewer required.||Single reviewer offers more opportunity for bias or errors in selection process.|
|Limitations and potential biases when omitting components of the review process.|
Interpretation of the findings can only be limited or cautious due to limitations in review process.
|Can impact policy and practice but systematic reviews are still needed.|
(Source: Cochrane: Rapid Reviews-An Introduction (2014))
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