Background: rapid reviews (RRs) have become attractive products to healthcare decision makers, but what is unclear is how well they are packaged for end users so that the evidence is more readily consumed and applied. Therefore, it is important to assess how well RRs convey information in a format that is easy to understand and use, and how well such information is contextualized for a given jurisdiction or setting so decision makers can make best use of the evidence in their respective circumstances.
Objectives: to explore the extent to which RRs are a useful information-packaging mechanism when evaluated against adapted criteria for communicating clearly to support healthcare policymaking.
Methods: the BRIDGE Criteria is an evidence-informed framework of building blocks of effective information-packaging to support the needs of policymakers and health systems managers (Lavis, 2013 Policy Summary 7 (BRIDGE Series)). It consists of five domains including: coverage of a health (system) issue (topical or relevant); type of knowledge the product includes (e.g. synthesized evidence; tacit knowledge and views of policymakers and stakeholders); how and for whom it is targeted; how clearly information is presented (report structure, readability etc.); and how its use is supported by end users. We modified the original criteria to distil and operationalize certain items to increase the objectivity of our assessments. Two independent review authors applied the criteria to a diverse sample of 103 RRs that we systematically identified as produced in 2016 from across 15 countries. We used descriptive summary statistics to analyze the assessment of the RRs against each criterion. Further, we explored whether there were significant differences on items between RR reports that were published in journals and non-journal published. (Protocol available at: osf.io/68tj7/)
Results: we assessed each RR against a total of 26 factors, which will be presented. Findings suggest that many RRs met certain modified BRIDGE Criteria. For example, all of the RRs attempted to synthesise research evidence and all provided references of the included studies. Further, more than 90% of the RRs provided detail on the problem related to the issue and offered a description of the methods to conduct the RR. However, we will also highlight certain items where there is need for improvement (e.g. key messaging, structure, clear labels, readability).
Conclusions: in a health policy context, RRs should be presented in a format that is brief and easily digested by the end users, is less taxing to read in full versus systematic reviews, is designed to maximize relevancy for policymakers, and is presented in such a way that stakeholders can implement or act on the findings.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: although there was no direct patient involvement, we expanded the criteria to capture whether patients were formally involved in any phases of the RRs.