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How Do I Do a Rapid Systematic Review

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Systematic reviews have become very popular among researchers, especially because they minimize bias and make the work of synthesizing credible and meaningful data easy and quick. It’s important to note that there are different types of systematic reviews that you can use to evaluate the available evidence. One of the popular types of systematic reviews is a rapid systematic review.

There are numerous benefits of using systematic reviews. But for you to enjoy these benefits, you have to know the type of systematic review that suits your research, along with when to use a systematic review. This article helps you understand a rapid systematic review and how it’s done.

What is a Rapid Systematic Review?

A rapid systematic review is a systematic way of synthesizing evidence to provide more timely and reliable data for critical decision-making. Compared to standard systematic reviews, rapid reviews take a shorter time to complete. In most cases, rapid systematic reviews take less than five weeks to complete, while standard systematic reviews take over a year.

Therefore, a systematic review becomes necessary when you want to make important decisions or policies within a short period. In such situations, a standard systematic review may not be feasible. A rapid systematic review will accelerate your review process by omitting certain stages of the process to make it easier.

A rapid systematic review is ideal for developing research topics, critical topics, and updates of existing reviews to evaluate what’s already understandable about the current policy or practice using analytical review techniques. Rapid reviews speed up the systematic review process by omitting some stages of the systematic review making it less vigorous.

The research approach is best designed for updates of previous reviews, critical topics (such as COVID-19), emerging research topics, and to assess what is already known regarding a practice or policy.

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How to Do a Rapid Systematic Review

As mentioned above, a rapid systematic review balances time limitations with considerations of partiality. If you want to try it out, here are the important steps you need to follow.

Creating a Research Question

Like any other type of systematic review, a rapid review requires a research question. Therefore, you need to know how to structure a systematic review question. Your question should be properly defined and focused. To come up with the right research question, you need to consider the biology and composition of the issue, its epidemiology, the unacceptable clinical practice, and patient results that cause an interest in the subject matter.

Additionally, you have to consider the appropriate stage for evaluation, achievability of the internal validity, the extent to which external validity can be achieved, what you can afford, what circumstances allow, and how to strike the right balance between the idea and practicability.

Defining Parameters

You have to define the limits of your review before you start reviewing your preferred studies. Ask yourself:

  • What resources do I need to search?
  • What inclusion and exclusion criteria do I use?
  • What is my screening protocol?
  • How do I appraise the quality of studies I choose?
  • What appraisal tools will I use?

Identifying Bias

Depending on your answers to the questions in step two, you should be able to identify all biases in your protocol. Some of the common biases include less transparency and reproducibility, errors, exclusion of unpublished data or negative results, exclusion of important results, exclusion of studies available elsewhere.

Planning and Execution

Come up with a feasible plan for your search and execute it effectively. For instance, you need to schedule a meeting with your librarian so that they can provide you with all the literature resources you need and choose the right technique for detailing your search. Proceed to do your search and remember to keep your citations.

Screening and Selecting

Using the criteria you have defined in step two, do a screen search of your results. Create a worksheet to help you monitor your screening and reviewing processes.

Appraising the Quality of Evidence

Use the appraisal tools you’ve chosen to appraise the quality of your evidence. This helps you to identify the best studies to include in your evidence synthesis. For instance, use evidence summary worksheets or tables to track significant features of reviewed studies.

Synthesizing Your Evidence

This involves the amalgamation of useful data collected from different studies. You need to combine the evidence collected at different appraisal stages. make sure your evidence synthesis addresses the following:

  • Study problem or objective
  • Relevance of the study
  • Implications for the study design or techniques
  • Possible biases or limitations of the review

Finally, although this article offers you a specific way of conducting a rapid systematic review, please understand that rapid reviews can vary in range and procedure, as well as the timeline for conducting them.

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