Rapid reviews are of increasing importance within Health Technology Assessment (HTA) due to the need for timely evidence to underpin the assessment of new technologies as well as financial constraints. There are many rapid review methods available (1) although there is little guidance as to the most suitable methods (2). A recent paper outlines issues to consider when selecting rapid review methods (3). The aim of this presentation is to present key aspects to consider when selecting rapid review methods.
We searched the evidence base for guidance on the selection of rapid review methods. We also examined three recently completed systematic reviews to identify rapid review methods used, the reasons for selection and the strengths and weaknesses of each method. Finally we identified key aspects to consider when selecting rapid review methods.
The evidence on guidance identified for the selection of rapid review methods was very limited. The analysis of the three reviews found that each review had distinctly different challenges, such as large numbers of relevant trials and heterogeneity in terms of populations, interventions, comparators and outcomes. All reviews included at least ten randomized controlled trials and numerous outcome measures. Three different approaches to the rapid review of the evidence were used in the three reviews. Key themes to consider when selecting rapid review methods were identified. These include: the size and nature of the evidence base, the characteristics of included studies and the expectations of those commissioning the review.
Rapid review methods need to be chosen to fit the needs of the review, each of which may have different challenges. Collaboration between those producing rapid reviews and commissioners is crucial when choosing methods to ensure that the needs of commissioners are met and limitations associated with the chosen methods are understood.
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