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Rapid Reviews

The Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE) produces rapid reviews to provide key stakeholders in the Military Health System (MHS) with timely information regarding the state of the science for specified topics that may inform psychological health care decisions.

What is a rapid review?

The “rapid review” has emerged in response to the need for evidence summaries that can be produced in a shorter period of time than the more resource-intensive and lengthy systematic review, which is considered one of the highest levels of evidence synthesis for informing evidence-based health care practices and policies. While systematic reviews provide decision-makers with comprehensive, rigorously evaluated summaries of scientific evidence that address important clinical questions, they can take up to several years to complete.

Although there is no standard methodology, rapid reviews involve modifying aspects of the systematic review methodology to reduce time and resource requirements.

How does PHCoE conduct rapid reviews?

PHCoE receives topics of interest for evidence synthesis from leaders and decision-makers in the MHS. A team of PHCoE staff works with the requesting stakeholder to refine key questions and devise a protocol for conducting the review. The table below illustrates several aspects of the systematic review methodology that may be strategically modified in the rapid review protocol. The PHCoE team then executes the agreed upon methodology to produce the report. Rapid review reports can vary widely depending on the stakeholder’s goal for the review, scope of the topic, and the allowable time frame.

Expediting the Systematic Review Process

  Systematic Reviews
Rapid Reviews
Time to Complete  12 months – several years 1 – 6 months
Review Topic Comprehensive key questions addressing effectiveness, safety, cost, etc. Limited number and complexity of key questions
Search Strategy  Sensitive, systematic search for published and grey literature Abbreviated search using a limited number of databases and resources

May apply restrictions such as publication date, study types, language, etc.
Screen and Select Inclusive, pre-defined criteria for inclusion

Dual review and selection of studies

Rigorous full-text review and comprehensive data elements for extraction
Narrow criteria for inclusion, which may be iteratively redefined based on search results

Single reviewer screening and selection of studies

Limited data elements for extraction
Synthesis and Conclusions Qualitative and quantitative synthesis of findings

May include meta-analysis

Comprehensive critical appraisal of individual studies and quality of evidence assessment
Descriptive summary of findings

Characteristics of included studies

May include critical appraisal of individual study designs


Recent Reports:

Title Date  Description 
Rapid Review on the Effectiveness of Telehealth Interventions for the Treatment of Behavioral Health Disorders May 2022 Review and summary of evidence on telehealth treatment of behavioral disorders.
Rapid Review of Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault/Harassment in the Military  February 2020  Review and summary of evidence for the co-occurrence of alcohol misuse and sexual assault 
Rapid Review on the Effect of Bereavement Leave on Recovery Outcomes  February 2020  Review and summary evidence on bereavement leave and improved coping/healing and recovery outcomes 
Rapid Review on Differences in Suicide Risk Factors between National Guard and Active Duty Service Members  November 2019  Review and summary of evidence on risk factors related to the differential rates of suicide between the National Guard and active duty components 
Intensive Outpatient Programs for Treating Psychological Sequelae of Sexual Assault: A Brief Summary of the Evidence  January 2019  Review and summary of evidence for intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) for the treatment of sexual assault sequelae 
inTransition “Hot Handoff” Evidence Review and Analysis  November 2018  Review and summary evidence to provide evidence-based suicide risk factors to inform the inTransition "hot handoff" versus "warm handoff" process proposal 
Executive Coaching: A Brief Summary of the Evidence  June 2018  Review and summary of evidence on findings from an examination of systematic reviews of executive coaching 
Peer Support Interventions: A Brief Summary of the Evidence  May 2018  Review and summary of peer-support interventions and recent reviews of systematic reviews on peer support for mental health conditions 
Outpatient Behavioral Health Provider Panel Size and Burnout in the Military Health System (MHS)  July 2017  Review and summary of evidence on outpatient behavioral health provider panel size as related to provider burnout, care quality, or other outcomes 
Last Updated: July 11, 2023
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