A Consistent, Rigorous Approach to Reviewing Literature

Harnessing the evidence base to improve decision-making

We have never had more information available to us than we do now. This includes information about research evidence that clinicians and policymakers need to make decisions about human services.

The challenge is accessing this evidence in a way that is useful and timely. Reviews of literature are a trusted approach to compiling and presenting relevant evidence on a focused topic. Full systematic reviews of literature use a consistent, established process for evidence retrieval, synthesis, and appraisal, and can take 12 months or longer to complete. They often don’t, however, incorporate “grey” literature–such as working papers or reports that aren’t published in academic journals–that can be critical to some of the most policy-relevant questions.

So how can we bring the rigor of a systematic evidence review to critical decisions, but on a faster timeline that includes all relevant information?

At Chapin Hall, Richard Epstein and Shannon Kugley lead systematic and rapid reviews of existing literature, engaging in methodological research to improve the efficiency and usefulness of these methods and their products. Rapid reviews can be completed on an expedited timeline—some in a matter of weeks, others longer, depending on the complexity, methodologic modifications, and other features of the review.

Epstein and Kugley’s methodological work has focused on the use of frameworks to guide reviews, best practices for grey literature searching, and rapid review methods. Recent content area reviews include appraising information about the effectiveness of recovery schools for improving behavioral and academic outcomes for youth with substance use disorders and screening tools in for children over age 4 and adults with autism.

For more information about this work, please contact Richard Epstein or Shannon Kugley.