Lessons Learned From Conducting a Rapid Review: A Case Study Examining Factors Associated With Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Screening Use


Rapid reviews enable researchers to obtain a snapshot of what is known about a topic in a quick and systematic way, and are increasingly becoming an important aspect of the research literature. Despite this, there are currently no formal guidelines as to how best to conduct a rapid review. One method is to begin with a narrow search, and to expand the search successively, until the number of new/additional publications considered potentially eligible, based on title and abstract alone, is less than 1% of the total number of publications found overall (at this point, one can be reasonably confident that expanding the search is unlikely to yield any considerable new information). One of the main advantages of this method is that it provides a rationale for terminating the search at a given point, thereby making it less time-consuming than many other methods, which require the reviewer(s) to screen all articles found in response to a comprehensive list of search terms. In this case study, we describe our experience using the aforementioned method to review the literature investigating factors associated with flexible sigmoidoscopy (“bowel scope”) screening use, and the lessons learned from it. We also describe the problems encountered in performing our review, and the steps implemented to overcome them. Finally, we provide suggestions for methodological improvements for the benefit of those considering conducting a rapid review in the future.

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