Cochrane Rapid Reviews Methods Group to play a leading role in guiding the production of informed high-quality, timely research evidence syntheses
Garritty, C., Stevens, A., Gartlehner, G., King, V., & Kamel, C. (2016). Cochrane Rapid Reviews Methods Group to play a leading role in guiding the production of informed high-quality, timely research evidence syntheses. Systematic Reviews, 5(1), Article 184. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-016-0360-z
Background: Policymakers and healthcare stakeholders are increasingly seeking evidence to inform the policymaking process, and often use existing or commissioned systematic reviews to inform decisions. However, the methodologies that make systematic reviews authoritative take time, typically 1 to 2 years to complete. Outside the traditional SR timeline, "rapid reviews" have emerged as an efficient tool to get evidence to decision-makers more quickly. However, the use of rapid reviews does present challenges. To date, there has been limited published empirical information about this approach to compiling evidence. Thus, it remains a poorly understood and ill-defined set of diverse methodologies with various labels. In recent years, the need to further explore rapid review methods, characteristics, and their use has been recognized by a growing network of healthcare researchers, policymakers, and organizations, several with ties to Cochrane, which is recognized as representing an international gold standard for high-quality, systematic reviews.
Purpose: In this commentary, we introduce the newly established Cochrane Rapid Reviews Methods Group developed to play a leading role in guiding the production of rapid reviews given they are increasingly employed as a research synthesis tool to support timely evidence-informed decision-making. We discuss how the group was formed and outline the group's structure and remit. We also discuss the need to establish a more robust evidence base for rapid reviews in the published literature, and the importance of promoting registration of rapid review protocols in an effort to promote efficiency and transparency in research.
Conclusion: As with standard systematic reviews, the core principles of evidence-based synthesis should apply to rapid reviews in order to minimize bias to the extent possible. The Cochrane Rapid Reviews Methods Group will serve to establish a network of rapid review stakeholders and provide a forum for discussion and training. By facilitating exchange, the group will strive to conduct research to advance the methods of rapid reviews.