Definition: A form of knowledge synthesis that applies systematic review methodology within a time-constrained setting. That is, the components or steps of the systematic review process are simplified, accelerated/fast-tracked, or omitted/side-stepped to produce information in a shortened timeframe.
Aim: To expedite the conduct of reviews to inform health policy and systems decisions, and to provide actionable and relevant evidence in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Key characteristics: A rapid review is best designed for new or emerging research topics, updates of previous reviews, critical topics, to assess what is already known about a policy or practice.
Strengths: Useful for addressing issues that need quick decisions. Faster time to completion, typically done in less than 5 weeks.
Drawbacks/Limitations: Risk of missing the significance of a theme that emerges from the literature. Grater chance of bias. Limited appraisal and assessment. Limitation of the search not being comprehensive.
Source: Cochrane Training. (2018, August 22). Difference between systematic reviews and rapid reviews [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDX_rWKCRVs&t=185s