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Redefining rapid reviews: a flexible framework for restricted systematic reviews
  1. Annette Plüddemann,
  2. Jeffrey K Aronson,
  3. Igho Onakpoya,
  4. Carl Heneghan,
  5. Kamal R Mahtani
  1. Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Annette Plüddemann, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6GG, UK; annette.pluddemann{at}

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Having suggested that so-called ‘rapid’ reviews have been misnamed and should instead be called ‘restricted reviews’, Members of the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine now suggest ways in which such reviews should be restricted.

In our previous article, we suggested that systematic reviews that have been called ‘rapid reviews’ have been misnamed, that rapidity is not their cardinal feature, and that they would be better called ‘restricted systematic reviews’. This is because when they are performed, certain elements that are required in full systematic reviews are simplified or omitted. Here we contrast full systematic reviews with restricted reviews and show how the former can be modified when performing the latter.

So-called ‘rapid reviews’ have been published in a variety of clinical areas, including digital communication,1 children’s consumption of energy drinks,2 sexual health interventions,3 and cannabis cessation.3 Guideline developers have also used them. For example, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence4 commissioned three rapid reviews to inform guidance on midlife approaches to delay or prevent the onset of dementia, disability, and frailty in later life.4

Several methods have been developed and described for conducting restricted reviews. However, there is little consistency among the different approaches.5 6 They may, for example, include updating literature searches of previous reviews; limiting search strategies by database selection and time frame; and screening, data extraction and/or quality assessment …

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