Often policy-makers and those designing specific interventions want to start by reviewing the existing evidence base. A Systematic Review ensures that all available evidence is taken into account and that the methodological rigour of that evidence is factored into the review. This way the evidence assessment can avoid being unduly influenced by poor quality research. A formal Systematic Review can take a long time to complete so we often use the Rapid Evidence Assessment methodology to produce high-quality evidence assessments in a timescale that fits the needs of policy-makers.
There is increasing interest in alternative approaches to synthesising research evidence and to developing approaches designed for the synthesis of qualitative research. We are familiar with a number of these and have used them in a number of settings.