Is the review summary sufficient? – A recent study by Cochrane

Cochrane recently conducted a study into whether readers can understand key messages within an evidence summary without having to read the full review, and if there are differences in understanding between various types of summaries.  A randomised experiment was conducted by Cochrane of a single review summary which compared understanding of key outcomes to the original review. Participants were then randomly assigned a summary of the review (i.e. abstract and plain language summary) and asked to spend a short time reading/listening to the summary. After this they were again asked to indicate if they would want to read the full review. Just over half (53%) of the participants identified its key message after engaging with the summary. The figures were 33% for the abstract group, 50% for both the plain language and transcript groups.  The differences between the groups were not statistically significant, but suggest that the audio summary might improve knowledge transfer compared to written summaries. Either way, this research establishes the continued relevance of the CNCF producing review summaries as a means of transferring evidence in a more easily digestible format to a much wider international audience.