Objective: As part of a larger project on updating systematic reviews, we studied the currency of reviews at the time of publication to determine typical and achievable times to publication for systematic reviews published in journals, Health Technology Assessment technical reports or Cochrane Collaboration reviews, and examined differences in publication speed between these document types.
Study design and setting: A cohort of systematic reviews of treatment interventions originally published between 1995 and 2005 and indexed in ACP Journal Club was assembled. Dates of search, manuscript submission, acceptance, publication and indexing in MEDLINE were extracted.
Results: One hundred fifty-six reviews meet inclusion criteria. The median time from final search to publication was 61 weeks with an interquartile range of 33-87 weeks. Best (first quartile) performances were for the final search updated to occur within 10 weeks of submission, acceptance for publication within 11 weeks of submission, and publication, print or electronic, within 12 weeks of acceptance.
Conclusion: Efforts to reduce the time spent in production of systematic reviews can improve currency. Both authors and publishers can contribute to more rapid production of health care evidence syntheses.