The use of rapid review methods for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
Rapid review products are intended to synthesize available evidence in a timely fashion while still meeting the needs of healthcare decision makers. Various methods and products have been applied for rapid evidence syntheses, but no single approach has been uniformly adopted. Methods to gain efficiency and compress the review time period include focusing on a narrow clinical topic and key questions; limiting the literature search; performing single (versus dual) screening of abstracts and full-text articles for relevance; and limiting the analysis and synthesis. In order to maintain the scientific integrity, including transparency, of rapid evidence syntheses, it is imperative that procedures used to streamline standard systematic review methods are prespecified, based on sound review principles and empiric evidence when possible, and provide the end user with an accurate and comprehensive synthesis. The collection of clinical preventive service recommendations maintained by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, along with its commitment to rigorous methods development, provide a unique opportunity to refine, implement, and evaluate rapid evidence synthesis methods and add to an emerging evidence base on rapid review methods. This paper summarizes the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's use of rapid review methodology, its criteria for selecting topics for rapid evidence syntheses, and proposed methods to streamline the review process.