Rapid Reviews

PHCoE produces rapid reviews to provide key MHS stakeholders with timely information regarding the state of the science for specified topics that may inform psychological health care decisions.

What is a rapid review?

Systematic reviews are considered one of the highest levels of evidence synthesis for informing evidence-based health care practices and policies. They provide decision-makers with comprehensive, rigorously evaluated summaries of scientific evidence that address important clinical questions. However, the systematic review methodology is resource intensive and can take up to several years to complete.

The “rapid review” has emerged in response to the need for evidence summaries that can be produced in a shorter period of time. Although there is no standard methodology, rapid reviews involve modifying aspects of the systematic review methodology to reduce time and resource requirements.

How does PHCoE conduct rapid reviews?

PHCoE receives topics of interest for evidence synthesis from leaders and decision-makers in the MHS. A team of PHCoE staff works with the requesting stakeholder to refine key questions and devise a protocol for conducting the review. The table below illustrates several aspects of the systematic review methodology that may be strategically modified in the rapid review protocol. The PHCoE team then executes the agreed upon methodology to produce the report. Rapid review reports can vary widely depending on the stakeholder’s goal for the review, scope of the topic, and the allowable time frame.

Expediting the Systematic Review Process

Systematic Reviews
Rapid Reviews
Time to Complete
12 months – several years 1 – 6 months
Review Topic
Comprehensive key questions addressing effectiveness, safety, cost, etc. Limited number and complexity of key questions
Search Strategy
Sensitive, systematic search for published and grey literature

Abbreviated search using a limited number of databases and resources

May apply restrictions such as publication date, study types, language, etc.

Screen and Select

Inclusive, pre-defined criteria for inclusion

Dual review and selection of studies

Rigorous full-text review and comprehensive data elements for extraction

Narrow criteria for inclusion, which may be iteratively redefined based on search results

Single reviewer screening and selection of studies

Limited data elements for extraction

Synthesis and Conclusions

Qualitative and quantitative synthesis of findings

May include meta-analysis

Comprehensive critical appraisal of individual studies and quality of evidence assessment

Descriptive summary of findings

Characteristics of included studies

May include critical appraisal of individual study designs

Recent Reports: