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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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  • Contributors All authors conceived and designed the study, and contributed critically to subsequent revisions and approved the final manuscript. AP, JKA, and IO wrote the first draft of the manuscript.

  • Funding AP, KRM, IO, and CH are co-investigators of The Evidence Synthesis Working Group, which is funded by the National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research (NIHR SPCR) (project number 390).

  • Disclaimer The views expressed in this commentary represent the views of the authors and not necessarily those of the host institution, the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health.

  • Competing interests AP reports grants from NIHR, grants from NIHR School of Primary Care Research, during the conduct of the study; and occasionally receives expenses for teaching Evidence-Based Medicine. CH reports that he has received expenses and fees for media work, expenses from WHO, and holds grant funding from the NIHR, the NIHR School of Primary Care Research, The Wellcome Trust and WHO. He has received financial remuneration from an asbestos case. He has also received income from the publication of a series of toolkit books published by Blackwells. On occasion, he receives expenses for teaching EBM and is also paid for his GP work in NHS out of hours and as editor in Chief of the BMJ EBM Journal. CEBM jointly runs the EvidenceLive Conference with the BMJ and the Overdiagnosis Conference with some international partners; these conferences are run on a non-profit making model. IO reports funding from NIHR School of Primary Care Research, during the conduct of the study. KRM receives funding from the NHS NIHR including the Health Technology Assessment programme as Primary Care panel Chair. He is also Director of an MSc in Systematic Reviews. JKA is a member of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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