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What is the Evidence Compass?

The Evidence Compass is a repository for literature reviews on issues of importance to the veteran community.  The Evidence Compass is designed to be used by researchers, policy-makers, and the broader community.  The literature reviews available on this site use the Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) methodology.  REAs can be used to answer a wide range of questions in a relatively short amount of time.

If you would like to get in contact about the Evidence Compass, please email

What is a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA)?

An REA is a type of literature review that collates and critically analyses multiple research studies.  The purpose of an REA is to provide a balanced assessment of what is already known about a specific problem or issue.  REAs are useful for examining the strength of the evidence in a particular area, incorporating assessment of the quality of the studies’ outcomes, sample size, and design.

What makes an REA “rapid”?

Like all literature reviews, REAs draw on evidence from existing research.  REAs use a number of strategies to make them faster than traditional systematic reviews or meta-analyses, including:

  • A narrow question – e.g. “What are effective psychological or multi-modal interventions for adults experiencing chronic pain?”
  • Limiting the timeframe for included studies – e.g. 2000-2015
  • Using existing high-quality guidelines, systematic reviews, or meta-analyses – e.g. SIGN Guidelines
  • Limiting included studies to those written in English and published in peer-reviewed journals

Advantages of an REA

An REA allows results to be produced in a relatively short amount of time, and strict inclusion criteria mean that the most robust evidence is included.

Limitations of an REA

Specific inclusion criteria can exclude important pieces of evidence, such as unpublished pilot studies and foreign language studies.  This can make REAs subject to reporting biases that may be evident in the literature.

For more information, download A Developer's Guide to Undertaking REAs (PDF).

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