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A6O4 | What is a rapid review?

Abstract text
Background: Commissioners of Health Technology Assessments (HTAs) require timely and cost-effective reviews to attain efficacious decisions on health care and treatments. In recent years, there has been an emergence of “Rapid Reviews” within HTAs; however, there are no known published guidelines or agreed methodology.

Objectives: In order to answer the research question: “What is a Rapid Review, and is methodology consistent in HTA Rapid Reviews?” a study was undertaken in a sample of Rapid Review (RR) HTAs from the Cochrane Database to investigate equalities and / or differences in RR methodology used.

Methods: The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews was searched, to locate RR HTAs from 2000 onwards. Each RR was examined to investigate the individual methodology used for searching, inclusion screening, quality assessment, data extraction and synthesis. Methods of each RR were compared to investigate whether differences and similarities in methodologies used, in comparison with recognised methods for Systematic Reviews (SRs).

Results: 46 Rapid Reviews were included. There was a wide diversity of methodology, with some reviews utilising well established SR methods, but many others diversifying in one or more areas i.e. searching, clarity of research questions, inclusion screening, quality assessment, data extraction, synthesis methods, report structure and number of reviewers.

Conclusions: Despite the amount of Rapid Reviews published within HTAs over recent years, there is no agreed and tested methodology and it is unclear how RRs differ from SRs. In a sample of HTA RRs from 2000-2011, there was a wide diversity of methodology utilised in all aspects of these reviews. There is scope for wider research in this area to investigate diversity of methods in more depth so that eventually, recommendations could be made for clear and systematic methods for Rapid Reviews; thus facilitating equity and credibility of this type of important review methodology.
Harker J1, Kleijnen J2
1 Kleijnen Systematic Reviews Ltd, UK.
2 Kleijnen Systematic Reviews Ltd, UK; CAPHRI, University of Maastricht, Netherlands
Presenting author and contact person
Presenting author: 
Julie Harker
Contact person: 
Julie Harker (Contact this person)
Date and Location
Oral session A6O4
Friday 21 October 2011 - 12:25 - 12:45