Methods to support evidence-informed decision-making in the midst of COVID-19: Creation and evolution of a rapid review service from the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Abstract The COVID-19 public health crisis has produced an immense and quickly evolving body of evidence. This research speed and volume, along with variability in quality, could overwhelm public health decision-makers striving to make timely decisions based on the best available evidence. In response to this challenge, the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools developed a Rapid Evidence Service, building on internationally accepted rapid review methodologies, to address priority COVID-19 public health questions. Each week, we receive requests from public health decision-makers and frame the prioritized topics into searchable questions. We develop and conduct a comprehensive search strategy and critically appraise all relevant evidence using validated tools. We synthesize the findings into a final report that includes key messages, with a rating of the certainty of the evidence using GRADE, as well as an overview of evidence and remaining knowledge gaps. Rapid reviews are typically completed and disseminated within one to two weeks. As of February 25, 2021, we have answered more than 27 distinct questions and completed 21 updates as new evidence emerged. The overview of our process, presented here, provides a real-world example of how review-level evidence can be made available – rapidly and rigorously, and in response to decision-makers’ needs – during an unprecedented public health crisis.

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