Rapid Evidence Assessment of the Literature (REAL(c)): streamlining the systematic review process and creating utility for evidence-based health care

By: Cindy Crawford, Courtney Boyd, Shamini Jain, Raheleh Khorsan, WB Jonas
Publication Name: BMC Res Notes
Year: 2015
Citation: DOI 10.1186/s 13104-015-1604-z
Type: Journal Article

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Systematic reviews (SRs) are widely recognized as the best means of synthesizing clinical research. However, traditional approaches can be costly and time-consuming and can be subject to selection and judgment bias. It can also be difficult to interpret the results of a SR in a meaningful way in order to make research recommendations, clinical or policy decisions, or practice guidelines. Samueli Institute has developed the Rapid Evidence Assessment of the Literature (REAL) SR process to address these issues. REAL provides up-to-date, rigorous, high quality SR information on health care practices, products, or programs in a streamlined, efficient and reliable manner. This process is a component of the Scientific Evaluation and Review of Claims in Health Care (SEaRCH™) program developed by Samueli Institute, which aims at answering the question of “What works?” in health care.


The REAL process (1) tailors a standardized search strategy to a specific and relevant research question developed with various stakeholders to survey the available literature; (2) evaluates the quantity and quality of the literature using structured tools and rulebooks to ensure objectivity, reliability and reproducibility of reviewer ratings in an independent fashion and; (3) obtains formalized, balanced input from trained subject matter experts on the implications of the evidence for future research and current practice.


Online tools and quality assurance processes are utilized for each step of the review to ensure a rapid, rigorous, reliable, transparent and reproducible SR process.


The REAL is a rapid SR process developed to streamline and aid in the rigorous and reliable evaluation and review of claims in health care in order to make evidence-based, informed decisions, and has been used by a variety of organizations aiming to gain insight into “what works” in health care. Using the REAL system allows for the facilitation of recommendations on appropriate next steps in policy, funding, and research and for making clinical and field decisions in a timely, transparent, and cost-effective manner.