Systematic reviews, with critical appraisal of the literature, remain the gold standard in finding evidence for health protection guidance; however the development of evidence-based guidelines (EBG) through the systematic review process is resource intensive. There are situations where a rapid review would be preferable, for example, for many reactive questions in public health and health protection, and where full systematic reviews would not be suitable given the short timescales involved. In this situation, condensed versions of the full systematic review or ‘rapid reviews’, where the review methodology is shortened in one or several ways and is more targeted, may be more appropriate.
While there are universally agreed methodologies for conducting full systematic literature reviews, the same does not exist for rapid reviews. The term, 'rapid review' may mean very different things to different individuals or groups and in different contexts in terms of timescale, approach, rigorousness, scope etc.
This protocol provides a recommended good practice guide to the rapid development of guidance. Guidance produced by this method does not require review and sign off by the SHPN Guidance Group.