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Table 4 Checklist of items to consider when determining a rapid review approach

From: The use of rapid review methods in health technology assessments: 3 case studies

1. Assess the current evidence base-It is important to have an understanding of the evidence available before deciding which rapid review methods are most appropriate. Some points to consider are:
  • Scoping searches - These are useful to estimate an approximate number of anticipated relevant studies.
  • Existing systematic reviews - What are the search dates for the review (s) and the question answered by the review (s)? What is the methodological quality of the review(s)? This can be assessed using appropriate checklists. Did the review report a quality assessment of included studies? Consider using reported data to incorporate in a meta-analysis with newly identified studies.
  • Summary of existing reviews - The findings of identified reviews could be presented plus a summary of any new studies using narrative synthesis.
2. Consider presentation of evidence-The complexity of the evidence base should be taken into account and an assessment made as to how much data should be presented and in what format. Some points to consider are:
  • Meta-analysis Does the data support the use of meta-analysis?
  • Outcome data Can limited data on outcomes be reported?
  • Grouping of outcomes Can relevant outcomes be grouped to assist the reader in understanding the evidence base?
3. Ensure clear communication with policy makers - It is important that there is a common understanding between reviewers and policy makers as to the purpose of the review and the questions to be answered. Some points to consider are:
  • In depth analysis Is it preferable to the policy maker to present an in depth analysis of a smaller selection of studies?
  • Brief overview Is it preferable to the policy maker to present less information from a wider range of studies?
  • Highlight gaps in the evidence Will it be helpful to the policy maker to highlight gaps in the evidence to inform future research?
4. Clearly report rapid review methods used - It is crucial that the reader understands what rapid review methods have been used and the impact this may have on the findings of the review. Points to consider are:
  • Description of methods-Have the rapid review methods been transparently reported highlighting differences from standard systematic review methods?
  • Discussion of limitations Have the potential limitations and biases of chosen methods been described.