Background: Decisionmakers and guideline developers demand rapid syntheses of the evidence when time sensitive evidence-informed decisions are required. A potential trade-off of such rapid reviews is that their results can have less reliability than results of systematic reviews that can lead to an increased risk of making incorrect decisions or recommendations. We sought to determine how much incremental uncertainty about the correctness of an answer guideline developers and health policy decisionmakers are willing to accept in exchange for a rapid evidence-synthesis.
Methods: Employing a purposive sample, we conducted an international web-based, anonymous survey of decisionmakers and guideline developers. Based on a clinical treatment, a public health, and a clinical prevention scenario, participants indicated the maximum risk of getting an incorrect answer from a rapid review that they would be willing to accept. We carefully reviewed data and performed descriptive statistical analyses.
Results: In total, 325 (58.5%) of 556 participants completed our survey and were eligible for analysis. The median acceptable incremental risk for getting an incorrect answer from a rapid review across all three scenarios was 10.0% (interquartile range [IQR] 5.0-15.0). Acceptable risks were similar for the clinical treatment (n = 313, median 10.0% [IQR 5.0-15.0]) and the public health scenarios (n = 320, median 10.0% [IQR 5.0-15.0]) and lower for the clinical prevention scenario (n = 312, median 6.5% [IQR 5.0-10.5]).
Conclusions: Findings suggest that decisionmakers are willing to accept some trade-off in validity in exchange for a rapid review. Nevertheless, they expect the validity of rapid reviews to come close to that of systematic reviews.