Objectives: Rapid reviews can be conducted in a narrower time frame, as compared to systematic reviews, by featuring restrictions. To estimate the validity of the results, assessment of methodological quality is required. Our aim was to analyze the methodological restrictions of rapid reviews compared with systematic reviews using the AMSTAR checklist and assess its feasibility for rapid reviews.
Methods: A systematic search for literature on rapid reviews of surgical interventions was conducted in three databases: Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane library. Additionally, health technology assessment (HTA) databases were searched. We analyzed reviews using AMSTAR and additionally compared the results with those of an overview of reviews on the same topic.
Results: Items found more frequently in rapid reviews were search for gray literature (65 percent versus 33 percent), listing of excluded studies (59 percent versus 37 percent), and provision of study characteristics (77 percent versus 44 percent), whereas consideration of study quality in formulating conclusions, conduct of meta-analysis, and statement of conflicts of interest were less frequent. Median time between search and publication was 8 months, with a range between 1 and 27.
Conclusions: With some adjustments, AMSTAR can be used as a checklist for rapid reviews to describe methodological restrictions in comparison to systematic reviews and to roughly estimate the validity of the results. Strikingly, only 14.3 percent of rapid reviews were published within 3 months.