A COVID‑19 rapid evidence synthesis service to support Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence
Mental health decision makers in Ontario need to have rapid access to evidence to inform decisions during the COVID‑19 response. We will initiate a rapid evidence service based on a partnership with Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence. In response to questions posed by the Centre and the Ontario Mental Health and Addictions COVID Response Table, we will rapidly produce a mix of two types of synthesis products over the grant period: 1) rapid evidence profiles (completed in three hours, to address emergent questions); and 2) rapid evidence syntheses (completed in three, 10 or 30 days, to address increasingly complex questions). The relative mix of product types produced will be demand driven and responsive to the evolving needs. Rapid evidence profiles will draw on a process piloted by COVID-END and will make use of COVID-END’s guide to evidence sources. Rapid syntheses will involve a search of databases of systematic reviews, with longer syntheses also including single studies and key informant interviews, following the McMaster Health Forum’s well-established processes. Some high-priority topics will be identified as “living documents” and updated regularly. We will share findings directly with partners at the Centre of Excellence, the Response Table, and with an existing provincial network for COVID‑19 evidence synthesis. All products will also be publicly available through our website. We will support other grant recipients through webinars to share tools and tips developed through COVID-END that can help to jump-start their synthesis activities and convene conversations to explore how synthesis products across research teams can be shared with researchers and decisions makers in other provinces or territories. The availability of a flexible synthesis service can ensure that mental health policy in Ontario continues to be evidence-informed throughout the COVID‑19 response and can benefit from expertise elsewhere in Canada and globally.