The need for timely evidence is one of the realities that need consideration in evidence-informed decisionmaking. Decisionmakers often need evidence yesterday. However, conducting a rigorous systematic review can take, depending on the question and the available trials, 1 to 3 years. This has created a need for rapid reviews. Generally rapid reviews are regarded as an accelerated response (from 24 hours to 16 weeks), but there is currently no universal accepted definition or methodology. The concepts and challenges related to rapid reviews were explored today at a session at the Cochrane Colloquium. Key themes were:
- Rapid reviews may not be feasible in all circumstances
- A one size fits all approach is not necessarily realistic
- At which stage(s) should the process be accelerated?
In the presentations, rapid reviews varied from being:
- Compiling a rapid review documenting existing evidence from systematic reviews
- A rapid update of an existing outdated systematic review
- Conducting a systematic review using accelerated methods (short cuts)
Through the Cochrane Innovations Company, a procedure manual for the preparation of Cochrane Response Rapid Reviews is currently being drafted. This manual consists of 11 stages for conducting such a Cochrane Response.
Let’s watch the space for future developments.