Exploring incorporation of critical appraisal methods into rapid evidence reviews
Simone Willis, Cardiff University
2Specialist Unit for Review Evidence, Cardiff University, UK
3Cedar at Cardiff and Vale UHB, UK
Background: Cedar Healthcare Technology Centre produces rapid evidence reviews across a range of topics and regularly evaluates the methods implemented to improve the usefulness of outputs. Rapid evidence reviews typically omit components of a full systematic review to streamline the process. Where a review has short timelines, Cedar has made pragmatic decisions around critical appraisal (CA), such as only one reviewer appraising evidence, or providing a summary of key issues using checklists as a guide. To increase the level of trust in the findings and align with best practice, full checklist-based CA of studies was incorporated into rapid evidence review processes.
Objectives: To explore the feasibility of incorporating checklist based CA of studies into rapid evidence review processes to inform clinical commissioning decisions. Improving the robustness of rapid evidence review methodology is important to patients as it means commissioning decisions are based on the best available evidence.
Methods: Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) CA checklists were used to assess the quality of studies for two rapid evidence reviews produced in November 2022 and February 2023. CA was performed by one reviewer and verified by a second reviewer. The appraisal checklists were summarised and included as an appendix to the review. A narrative summary of the CA results was included in the main body of the report.
Results: The inclusion of CA of all studies included in a rapid evidence review was an achievable task. However, it required additional resourcing and led to an increase in time to complete the review. Specifically, time was required to perform CA in duplicate, consider interpretation of checklist questions, discuss discrepancies, and narratively summarise the results.
Conclusions: Including CA for studies included in a rapid evidence review is a valuable exercise to inform the reader of the quality of the evidence. Consequently, this can inform how trustworthy the evidence is and guide interpretation of the evidence to better inform clinical commissioning decisions.
Patient, public and/or healthcare consumer involvement: Healthcare consumers positively received inclusion of full checklist-based CA results, particularly where limited evidence existed on a topic, and considered it informative for making clinical commissioning decisions.