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Table 4 Protocol facilitators and barriers identified

From: A rapid research needs appraisal methodology to identify evidence gaps to inform clinical research priorities in response to outbreaks—results from the Lassa fever pilot

Facilitators Barriers
• Review teams with previous experience of systematic and rapid reviews involving clinical research was a key facilitator for protocol development and piloting • An experienced information specialist for developing and carrying out a rapid, robust search strategy • Engaging stakeholders involved in the pilot in the development of the protocol ensured all were trained in the methodology in advance • The brief clinical LF background data summarized by the CT were submitted to all on day 1 • The “global relay” set up in advance, which optimized the use of time zones and resources • The use of DistillerSR allowed the organization of the data and different steps to be carried out in parallel. It also reduced the need for handovers, though the reviewers found that a brief, daily handover meeting was useful • The use of an instant messenger system aided the rapid response to specific queries • The CT on stand-by as extra resources was helpful in order to respond to clinical queries and assisting with full-text paper retrieval and consensus • Endnotes’ automatic retrieval of full-text articles was not as effective as expected. This meant that additional resources had to be identified rapidly to assist with retrieving full-text papers, causing unforeseen delays • The higher than expected number of articles identified meant that resources were stretched to capacity • Screening of full-text papers took longer than expected • The reviewers found some of the clinical domains, such as diagnostics and immune response harder to review and data extract • The large number of articles identified also meant that there were not enough resources to translate non-English papers • One review team not having access to Endnote during the pilot • The large amount of data extracted meant that it took longer than anticipated to tidy and organize the data