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Systematic and Rapid Reviews: Rapid Reviews

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What is the difference between a rapid and a systematic review?


Rapid review

Systematic review


4-24 weeks

A year or more


Mainly databases

Comprehensive, including hand searching, grey literature


Some limits applied – usually date range and language

Comprehensive within scope of project

How to carry our a rapid review

Rapid reviews are simply a simplified approach to systematic reviews. A rapid review and a systematic review use the same basic search process, with a transparent and replicable methodology and the literature is critically appraised in the same way. As a rapid review takes place over a  shorter timeline than a systematic review, some of the stages are omitted or simplified. This might involve using fewer databases, a single reviewer, or not searching the grey literature. 

Useful resources for conducting a rapid review

Examples of rapid reviews

Anglemyer A, Moore THM, Parker L, Chambers T, Grady A, Chiu K, Parry M, Wilczynska M, Flemyng E, Bero L. Digital contact tracing technologies in epidemics: a rapid review. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD013699. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013699. (Full text here).

Noone C, McSharry J, Smalle M, Burns A, Dwan K, Devane D, Morrissey EC. Video calls for reducing social isolation and loneliness in older people: a rapid review. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD013632. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013632 (Full text here).

Lal, S, Adair, C.E. E-Mental Health: a rapid review of the literature. Psychiatric Services 2014. 65(1): 24-32. (Full text here).