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  • School of Public Health

    Department of Population Medicine and Health Services Research  

    Campus der Universität Bielefeld
    © Universität Bielefeld

Rapid Review Response Unit (RRRUn)

(c) Logo RRRUn

The aim of the Rapid Review Response Unit (RRRUn) of the department Population Medicine and Health Services Research (AG 2) is to systematically generate and process available evidence on health determinants and risks as well as population-based interventions to support evidence-informed decisions in health care. To assemble knowledge on relevant topics, RRRUn produces reviews of quantitative and/or qualitative studies using systematic methods of evidence-based medicine and Public Health. The RRRUn cooperates with various partners from science and research, including the Competence Network Public Health COVID-19, the Section Health Equity Studies & Migration of the Heidelberg University Hospital, and the Robert Koch Institute, as well as institutions of the public health service at state and municipal level within the network OEGD-FORTE. International partners include UN organizations and scientific networks (e.g. Lancet Migration Regional Hub Europe).

Our contribution to evidence guidance in health and health care

Through RRRUn, we support individuals from academia and research, health care institutions, and policy makers in producing systematic reviews on selected topics of socio-political relevance. We accept a limited number of proposals for reviews each year. We evaluate incoming proposals using urgency, feasibility, and population health relevance criteria to allocate available resources to topics with the highest need for evidence and relevance to population health. For more information on the process, see "Process and procedure" below.

The RRRUn focuses on Rapid Reviews, but also produces other types of reviews listed below, considering criteria of urgency, feasibility, and relevance.

  • Rapid Reviews, Systematic Reviews, Scoping Reviews, Conceptual Reviews, Evidence Mappings
  • Protocol development and registration
  • Conducting searches and literature management
  • Data extraction and synthesis
  • Quality assessment of studies
  • Meta-analytical analyses and narrative syntheses
  • Preparation of scientific publications and policy briefs

Please describe your proposal considering the contents listed below and send us your request to

  • Surname/Forename and institution
  • Topic
  • Research question
  • Relevance to population health
  • Assessment and justification of urgency

We aim to respond to submissions within two weeks.

Steering and coordination team

Prof. Dr. Kayvan Bozorgmehr (MD, MSc)
Contact for cooperation

Sven Rohleder (MSc, doctoral candidate)
Contact for systematic searches, protocol development and meta-analyses

Maren Hintermeier (MSc, doctoral candidate)
Contact for Covidence, data extraction and quality appraisal

Victoria Saint (MSc, doctoral candidate)
Contact for policy briefs



Process and procedure

What is a review?

A review in the field of public health is a systematic approach that summarizes results from primary studies that have already been conducted on a specific topic area in order to compile as much evidence as possible for decision-making or policy advice and to identify possible research gaps. There are several types of reviews, which differ, among other factors, in research methods, the overarching objective, and the processing time required. RRRUn focuses on rapid reviews, but also produces systematic reviews, scoping reviews, conceptual reviews, or evidence mappings, depending on the urgency, feasibility and relevance criteria.

A Rapid Review is a synthesis of studies that provides timely preparation of information for urgent decisions or questions by simplifying and/or omitting individual steps of the systematic approach.

A Systematic Review is a methodologically and temporally extensive synthesis of knowledge, which is applied especially for sensitive research questions in order to minimize the influence of possible sources of bias in the review preparation.

A Scoping Review is used to assess the amount of available evidence, group or categorize findings, and identify research gaps. This type of review is exploratory and usually addresses a broad question or topics. Scoping reviews can also be used to decide whether it is appropriate to conduct a systematic review or to inform the scope and planning for other types of research and studies.

A Conceptual Review serves to systematically compile, compare and, if necessary, further develop theories, elements or concepts on public health relevant aspects and terms as well as strategies and characteristics (e.g. resilience, preparedness, quality, and equity) or to identify theoretical and conceptual gaps. These are then used, for example, to inform evidence for population-based interventions and structural health reforms.

A Mapping Review is similarly time-intensive to a systematic review and, unlike a scoping review, is based on a specific research question rather than a broader research topic. Characterized by a visual synthesis, this type of review is particularly suitable for a very diverse and extensive field of research, as well as a starting point for systematic reviews or to identify research gaps.

The methods used in RRRUn follow the highest scientific standards outlined in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (including guidance on the inclusion of non-randomized intervention studies and reviews of health promotion and public health interventions), the Campbell Collaboration, and the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre), depending on the subject matter and topic of the review.

To achieve a balance between quality, completeness, and timeliness in rapid reviews, the traditional systematic review process is adapted by: (a) limiting the number of databases to be searched to a maximum of three; (b) choosing search terms that are specific (not sensitive); (c) limiting inclusion criteria by date; and (d) by language.

In all other steps, including study selection, quality assessment, data extraction and synthesis, no adjustments are made to ensure high quality reviews while maintaining timeliness.

We accept a limited number of proposals for reviews each year. The reviews are prepared by a review team. The team includes:

  • Lead: post-doc; or PhD student under the supervision of a professor
  • Core team: two scientists with significant experience in review development
  • Support team: research assistants or more junior researchers from relevant areas of health sciences who are involved in the relevant steps of the implementation under supervision.

The review process is between 12-20 weeks from acceptance of the topic submission and completion of the report. The time frame varies depending on the review type, the scope of the research question, and the literature to be synthesized. The following example is based on a 12-week time frame:

Week 1: Protocol development
Week 2: Systematic search
Week 3-4: Study selection
Week 5-7: Data extraction
Week 8-9: Quality assessment
Week 10: Study synthesis
Week 11-12: Report writing and publication

A two-page report with policy-relevant findings will be published in citable format on the university website upon completion of the review. A full report will be submitted to scientific journals for publication. In exceptional cases of high urgency and relevance, the full report may be published immediately in citable format on the University website.

The RRRUn is led by the Department of Population Medicine and Health Services Research (AG 2), in the School of Public Health at Bielefeld University. External academic institutions and health system institutions may serve as collaborating partners. Individuals, health care organizations, public health services, and policy makers may propose topics for review within the RRRUn.


Niklas Nutsch, Kerstin Schmidt, Nils Robson, Kübra Altinok, Anna Christina Nowak, Kayvan Bozorgmehr. Social Capital and Mental Health of Adult Asylum Seekers and Refugees: A Systematic Review of Quantitative Studies. PROSPERO 2023 CRD42023484028.
Link to PROSPERO protocol

Katja Kajikhina, Kayvan Bozorgmehr, Sven Rohleder, Kerstin Schmidt, Michal Hudák, Marius Tönsmann, Ariane Schmedding-Willmann, Rebecca Zöllner, Manuela Schade, Christina Strauß, Philipp Mathé, Claudia Hövener, Stella Duwendag. Evidence on the non-intended consequences of mandatory vaccination policies: a systematic review of reviews. PROSPERO 2023 CRD42023393851.
Link to PROSPERO protocol

Kayvan Bozorgmehr, Zahia Wasko, Michael Knipper, Sven Rohleder, Abdelkrim Boukachabia, Reem Mussa. Pushback practices and violence towards migrants crossing European borders: protocol for a rapid systematic review. PROSPERO 2022 CRD42022369975.
Link to PROSPERO protocol

Kayvan Bozorgmehr, Maren Hintermeier, Nora Gottlieb, Amir Mohsenpour, Sven Rohleder, Renke Biallas, Louise Biddle. Unintended consequences of public health and social measures implemented in the setting of reception and collective accommodation centres for refugees to prevent SARS‐CoV‐2 infection and its consequences. PROSPERO 2022 CRD42022384673.
Link to PROSPERO protocol

Nora Gottlieb, Andreas W. Gold, Niklas Nutsch, Stella Duwendag, Kayvan Bozorgmehr. The electronic health insurance card for asylum-seekers in Germany: Systematic review of empirical studies on effects on health, health care, and health system outcomes. PROSPERO 2022 CRD42022309943.
Link to PROSPERO protocol

Maren Hintermeier, Amir Mohsenpour, Nora Gottlieb, Sergio Flores, Rohleder Sven, Sweetmavourneen Pernitez-Agan, Janice Lopez, Kolitha Wickramage, Kayvan Bozorgmehr. Refugees, migrants, internally displaced people and COVID-19: protocol for an updated systematic review. PROSPERO 2021 CRD42021296952.
Link to PROSPERO protocol

Costa, D., Scharpf, F., Weiss, A., Ayanian, A., Bozorgmehr, K. Intimate partner violence during COVID-19: systematic review and meta-analysis according to methodological choices. BMC Public Health 2024; 24(313).
Link to article

Biddle L, Hintermeier M, Costa D, Wasko Z, Bozorgmehr K. Context, health and migration: a systematic review of natural experiments. eClinicalMedicine.
Link to article

Wahedi K, Zenner, D, Flores S, Bozorgmehr K. Mandatory, voluntary, repetitive, or one-off post-migration follow-up for tuberculosis prevention and control: A systematic review. PLOS Medicine. 2023;20(1).
Link to article

Jahn R, Hintermeier M, Bozorgmehr K. SARS-CoV-2 attack rate in reception and accommodation centres for asylum seekers during the first wave: systematic review of outbreak media reports in Germany. Journal of Migration and Health. 2022;5:100084.
Link to article

Mohsenpour A, Bozorgmehr K, Rohleder S, Stratil J, Costa D. SARS-Cov-2 prevalence, transmission, health-related outcomes and control strategies in homeless shelters: Systematic review and meta-analysis. eClinicalMedicine. 2021;38.
Link to article

Hintermeier M, Gencer H, Kajikhina K, Rohleder S, Hövener C, Tallarek M, Spallek J, Bozorgmehr K. SARS-CoV-2 among migrants and forcibly displaced populations: A rapid systematic review. Journal of Migration and Health. 2021;4:100056.
Link to article

Biddle L, Wahedi K, Bozorgmehr K. Health system resilience: a literature review of empirical research. Health Policy Plan. 2020;35(8):1084-1109.
Link to article

Bozorgmehr K, Hintermeier M, Gottlieb ND, Mohsenpour A, Biddle LR. Interim Report. Unintended consequences of public health and social measures implemented in the setting of reception and collective accommodation centres for refugees to prevent SARS‐CoV‐2 infection and its consequences (UNICORE-RESYST) (Technical Report). Evidence Synthesis Series. Vol 2023-01. Bielefeld: Fakultät für Gesundheitswissenschaften, AG Bevölkerungsmedizin und Versorgungsforschung, Rapid Review Response Unit (RRRUn); 2023.
Link to report

Mohsenpour A, Bozorgmehr K, Rohleder S, Stratil J, Costa D. SARS-CoV-2 Infektionen und Kontrollstrategien bei Menschen, die von Wohnungslosigkeit betroffen sind (Policy Brief). Evidence Synthesis Series. Vol 2021-01. Bielefeld: Fakultät für Gesundheitswissenschaften, AG Bevölkerungsmedizin und Versorgungsforschung, Rapid Review Response Unit (RRRUn); 2021.
Link to report


Hintermeier, M., Gottlieb, N., Rohleder, S., Oppenberg, J., Baroudi, M., Pernitez-Agan, S., Lopez, J., Flores, S., Mohsenpour, A., Wickramage, K., Bozorgmehr, K (2023). COVID-19 among migrants, refugees, and internally displaced persons: systematic review, meta-analysis and qualitative synthesis of the global empirical literature. medRxiv 2023.08.03.23293586
Link to Preprint

Biddle, L, Hintermeier, M., Costa, D., Wasko, Z., & Bozorgmehr, K. (2023). Context and health: a systematic review of natural experiments among migrant populations. medRxiv 2023.01.18.23284665
Link to Preprint

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