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Rapid Reviews

Rapid Reviews

Journal Articles


Glossary Terms

What is a systematic review?

According to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, a systematic review has four key components:

  • "a clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies
  • an explicit, reproducible methodology
  • an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies, for example through the assessment of risk of bias; and
  • a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies." 1

What is a rapid review?

According to the International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care, "there is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a rapid review," but they generally take around 5 weeks to complete, contain limited sources, and have a broad rather than focused PICOS. Unlike systematic reviews, rapid reviews use limited or cautious interpretations of findings. 2


1. Higgins JPT, Thomas J, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, Version 6.1 (updated September 2020). Cochrane, 2020. Available from

2. Khangura S, Konnyu K, Cushman R, Grimshaw J, Moher D. Evidence summaries: the evolution of a rapid review approach. Syst Rev. 2012;1:10. Published 2012 Feb 10.

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