Rapid Review

Rapid reviews use the same methods as systematic reviews but are completed within a much shorter time frame

Definition of a rapid review


“Rapid reviews are a form of knowledge synthesis in which components of the systematic review process are simplified or omitted to produce information in a timely manner” (Tricco et al., 2015. p1).


Seen as an alternative to systematic reviews, the rapid review enables clinicians, managers and/or policy makers who are time poor or who have time constraints to find the information they require in a timely manner to make evidence informed decisions.

The methods used to undertake a rapid review are the same methods used when undertaking a systematic review.

A rapid review is generally undertaken anywhere from 1 to 6 months and the depths in which a researcher goes into each step of the rapid review process will vary.

The components taken from the systematic review process are generally simplified or parts often omitted in the rapid review process (Dobbins, 2017).

A rapid review question will also vary depending on the needs of the researcher.

Researchers can use this review process for answering anything from a broad research question, information on new or emerging research, to critical issues within their sector.

Using the rapid review approach researchers need to keep in mind; due to the design of the review, there is a high probability for limitations such as the search not being as comprehensive, potential for bias, to the omission of key evidence.


Dobbins, M. (2017). Rapid review guidebook steps for conducting a rapid review. Retrieved from http://www.nccmt.ca/uploads/media/media/0001/01/a816af720e4d587e13da6bb307df8c907a5dff9a.pdf

Tricco, A. C., Antony, J., Zarin, W., Strifler, L., Ghassemi, M., Ivory, J., . . . Straus, S. E. (2015). A scoping review of rapid review methods. BMC Medicine, 13, 224. doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0465-6

Introduction to rapid reviews

CCC Introduction to Rapid Reviews, the Different evidence, different synthesis series. PAHO TV. This webinar runs for 58:54 minutes.

Resources on rapid reviews

Further reading on the process of undertaking a rapid review can be found by clicking on the following links.

Rapid Reviews to Strengthen Health Policy and Systems: A Practical Guide. Edited by Andrea C. Tricco, Etienne V. Langlois & Sharon E. Straus

Rapid Review Guidebook. Steps for conducting a rapid review. Author Maureen Dobbins.