I have been reflecting that many of the approaches towards rapid reviews start with the notion of a systematic review and approach rapidity by removing bits. For example they may search fewer databases or perhaps only have one person assessing for bias. But the principle is that the person undertaking the review (and those commissioning it) believe that the approach will not affect the result too much and will therefore be acceptable. This approach is predominant and if you have a look at much of the research (see List of articles) you’ll find loads of examples.
I would characterise the above approach as being process-focussed. Focussed on the process of systematics reviews.
An alternative approach, one that is far less common, is one I would call outcome focussed. This starts with the reason for doing a systematic review (see here for the main reasons for undertaking a systematic review) – what outcome you’re hoping to achieve and therefore what is the quickest way to approach this. So, if you want an accurate assessment of an interventions effect size – how can we do it really quickly?
While I have worked in both areas this outcome-focussed approach is the one that I have particularly worked on and think has most promise. The Trip Rapid Review system uses sentiment analysis to estimate how effective an intervention might be. More recently, the 60-90 minute review of Brexpiprazole for schizophrenia used regulatory documents and even included a meta-analysis to estimate likely effect size. But these are early steps on a long journey.
This post may be of little consequence, but I sometimes think just ‘thinking out loud’ might help myself and others see rapid reviews in a different way.