Skip to main content Accessibility help


  • Sara Khangura (a1), Julie Polisena (a2), Tammy J. Clifford (a2), Kelly Farrah (a3) and Chris Kamel (a3)...


Background: Increasingly, healthcare decision makers demand quality evidence in a short timeframe to support urgent and emergent decisions related to procurement, clinical practice, and policy. Health technology assessment (HTA) producers are responding by developing innovative approaches to evidence synthesis that can be executed more quickly than traditional systematic review. These approaches, and the broader implications they bring to bear on health decision making and policy development, however, are generally neither well-understood nor well-described. This study intends to contribute to an emerging literature around methodological approaches to rapid review in HTA by outlining those developed and implemented by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH).

Methods: Since 2005, CADTH has developed and implemented a rapid review approach that synthesizes evidence to support informed healthcare decisions and policy. Rapid Response reports are tailored to the identified needs of Canadian health decision makers, representing a range of options with regard to depth, breadth, and time-to-delivery.

Results: Preliminary observations indicate that CADTH's approach to rapid evidence review is generally well-received by Canadian health decision makers; real-world case studies provide pragmatic examples of how health decision makers have used Rapid Response reports to support evidence-informed health decisions across Canada.

Conclusions: Rapid review is becoming an increasingly important approach to evidence synthesis, both within and external to the field of HTA. Transparent reporting of the methods used to develop rapid review products will be critical to the assessment of their relevance, utility and effects in a range of contexts.



Hide All
1. Ganann, R, Ciliska, D, Thomas, H. Expediting systematic reviews: Methods and implications of rapid reviews. Implement Sci. 2010;5:56.
2. Gough, D, Thomas, J, Oliver, S. Clarifying differences between review designs and methods. Syst Rev. 2012;1:28.
3. Khangura, S, Konnyu, K, Cushman, R, Grimshaw, J, Moher, D. Evidence summaries: The evolution of a rapid review approach. Syst Rev. 2012;1:10.
4. Harker, J, Kleijnen, J. What is a rapid review? A methodological exploration of rapid reviews in Health Technology Assessments. Int J Evid Based Healthc. 2012;10:397410.
5. Thigpen, S, Puddy, RW, Singer, HH, Hall, DM. Moving knowledge into action: Developing the rapid synthesis and translation process within the interactive systems framework. Am J Community Psychol. 2012;50:285294.
6. Government Social Research Service, Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre). How to do a REA. London (UK): Civil Service; 2012. (accessed March 18, 2012).
7. Perry, AE. To rapid evidence assess or systematic review? An example using persistent and prolific offenders. Slides presented at: 8th International Campbell Colloquium. Vancouver; May 12–14, 2008. (accessed March 1, 2012).
8. Hailey, D, Corabian, P, Harstall, C, Schneider, W. The use and impact of rapid health technology assessments. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2000;16:651656.
9. INAHTA (International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment). About INAHTA. Stockholm (Sweden): INAHTA; 2012. (accessed June 28, 2012).
10. Drummond, MF, Schwartz, JS, Jonsson, B, et al. Key principles for the improved conduct of health technology assessments for resource allocation decisions. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2008;24:244258.
11. Menon, D, Stafinski, T. Health technology assessment in Canada: 20 years strong? Value Health. 2009;12(Suppl 2):S1419.
12. Hailey, D. A preliminary survey on the influence of rapid health technology assessments. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2009;25:415418.
13. EUnetHTA. JA2 WP5 - Applying the HTA Core Model for Rapid Assessment for national adaptation and reporting. Copenhagen: EUnetHTA Secretariat; 2012. (accessed April 18, 2013).
14. Gerhardus, A, Dintsios, CM. The impact of HTA reports on health policy: A systematic review. GMS Health Technol Assess. 2005;1:Doc02.
15. Abrami, PC, Borokhovski, E, Bernard, RM, et al. Issues in conducting and disseminating brief reviews of evidence. Evid Policy. 2010;6:371389.
16. Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH). About rapid response service. Ottawa: CADTH; 2013. (accessed May 31, 2013).
17. Wright, RW, Brand, RA, Dunn, W, Spindler, KP. How to write a systematic review. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2007;455:2329.
18. Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI). PRISMA-P: Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses protocols. Ottawa: OHRI; 2012. (accessed October 2, 2012).
19. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. PROSPERO: International prospective register of systematic reviews. York (UK): University of York. 2012. (accessed March 1, 2012).
20. Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH). Grey matters: A practical search tool for evidence-based medicine. Updated 2013 Jan. Ottawa: CADTH; 2008. (accessed May 31, 2013).
21. Tricco, AC, Tetzlaff, J, Moher, D. The art and science of knowledge synthesis. J Clin Epidemiol. 2011;64:1120.
22. Higgins, JPT, Green, S, eds. Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration; 2011. (accessed August 1, 2012).
23. Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network. SIGN 50: A guideline developer's handbook. Revised edition. Edinburgh: SIGN; 2011. (accessed June 28, 2012).
24. Downs, SH, Black, N. The feasibility of creating a checklist for the assessment of the methodological quality both of randomised and non-randomised studies of health care interventions. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1998;52:377384.
25. Whiting, PF, Rutjes, AW, Westwood, ME, et al. QUADAS-2: A revised tool for the quality assessment of diagnostic accuracy studies. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155:529536.
26. Shea, BJ, Grimshaw, JM, Wells, GA, et al. Development of AMSTAR: A measurement tool to assess the methodological quality of systematic reviews. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2007;7:10.
27. Brouwers, MC, Kho, ME, Browman, GP, et al. AGREE II: Advancing guideline development, reporting and evaluation in health care. CMAJ. 2010;182:E839842.
28. Yaffe, J, Montgomery, P, Hopewell, S, Shepard, LD. Empty reviews: A description and consideration of Cochrane systematic reviews with no included studies. PLoS One. 2012;7:e36626.
29. Cameron, A, Watt, A, Lathlean, T, Sturm, T. Rapid versus full systematic reviews: An inventory of current methods and practice in health technology assessment. ASERNIP-S report no. 60. Adelaide (South Australia): Australian Safety & Efficacy Register of New Interventional Procedures – Surgical (ASERNIP-S); 2007. (accessed March 1, 2012).
30. Watt, A, Cameron, A, Sturm, L, et al. Rapid versus full systematic reviews: Validity in clinical practice? ANZ J Surg. 2008;78:10371040.
31. Thomas, J, Newman, M, Oliver, S. Rapid evidence assessments of research to inform social policy: Taking stock and moving forward. Evid Policy. 2013;9:527.
32. Kamel, C, McGahan, L, Mierzwinski-Urban, M, Embil, J. Preoperative skin antiseptic preparations and application techniques for preventing surgical site infections: A systematic review of the clinical evidence and guidelines. Ottawa: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2011. (Rapid response report: Systematic review). (accessed June 28, 2012).
33. Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator for diabetic neuropathy: Clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness. Ottawa: The Agency; 2011. (Rapid response report: Summary of abstracts). (accessed October 15, 2012).


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Khangura Supplementary Material

 Word (28 KB)
28 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed