Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Practical applications of rapid review methods in the development of Australian health policy

Robyn Lambert A B , Thomas D. Vreugdenburg A , Nicholas Marlow A , N. Ann Scott A , Lynda McGahan A and David Tivey A

A Research, Audit and Academic Surgery Division, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, 199 Ward Street, North Adelaide, SA 5006, Australia. Email: tom.vreugdenburg@surgeons.org; nicholas.marlow@surgeons.org; capstone@shaw.ca; lmcgahan@mac.com; david.tivey@surgeons.org

B Corresponding author. Email: College.Asernip@surgeons.org

Australian Health Review - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AH16041
Submitted: 13 November 2015  Accepted: 5 June 2016   Published online: 29 July 2016

Abstract

Rapid reviews (RRs) are a method of evidence synthesis that can provide robust evidence to support policy decisions in a timely manner. Herein we describe the methods used to conduct RRs and present an illustrative case study to describe how RRs can be used to inform contemporary Australian health policy. The aim of the present study was to explore several important aspects of how RRs can inform decision makers. RRs are conducted within limited time frames of as little as 4 weeks. Policy questions may focus on issues of efficacy, service delivery and service organisation rather than reimbursement of new services, which is better answered by a more comprehensive assessment. RRs use flexible and pragmatic methods, which aim to balance the objectivity and rigour required of the reviews within limited time frames. This flexibility allows for great variation across products with regard to length, depth of analysis and methods used. As a result, RRs can be specifically tailored to address targeted policy questions and are a useful tool in the development of Australian health policy.


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