What are the best methods for rapid reviews of the research evidence? A systematic review of reviews and primary studies

Michelle M. Haby*, Jorge Otávio Maia Barreto, Jenny Yeon Hee Kim, Sasha Peiris, Cristián Mansilla, Marcela Torres, Diego Emmanuel Guerrero-Magaña, Ludovic Reveiz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Rapid review methodology aims to facilitate faster conduct of systematic reviews to meet the needs of the decision-maker, while also maintaining quality and credibility. This systematic review aimed to determine the impact of different methodological shortcuts for undertaking rapid reviews on the risk of bias (RoB) of the results of the review. Review stages for which reviews and primary studies were sought included the preparation of a protocol, question formulation, inclusion criteria, searching, selection, data extraction, RoB assessment, synthesis, and reporting. We searched 11 electronic databases in April 2022, and conducted some supplementary searching. Reviewers worked in pairs to screen, select, extract data, and assess the RoB of included reviews and studies. We included 15 systematic reviews, 7 scoping reviews, and 65 primary studies. We found that several commonly used shortcuts in rapid reviews are likely to increase the RoB in the results. These include restrictions based on publication date, use of a single electronic database as a source of studies, and use of a single reviewer for screening titles and abstracts, selecting studies based on the full-text, and for extracting data. Authors of rapid reviews should be transparent in reporting their use of these shortcuts and acknowledge the possibility of them causing bias in the results. This review also highlights shortcuts that can save time without increasing the risk of bias. Further research is needed for both systematic and rapid reviews on faster methods for accurate data extraction and RoB assessment, and on development of more precise search strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-20
Number of pages19
JournalResearch Synthesis Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO); licensed by Research Synthesis Methods. Research Synthesis Methods published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • evidence synthesis
  • rapid review methods
  • recommendations
  • risk of bias
  • systematic review


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