Health information should be easy to access, use, and understand for everyone, including both patients and their caregivers. However, despite the increasing availability of medical content from different forms of media, studies have shown that few non-experts can understand, or act on, the health information available
Often, the text is written so that it is beyond the general reading level, limiting understanding and hindering decision-making.
Enter the plain-language summary.
Plain language summaries (PLSs) have been introduced to give readers a clear, nontechnical, and easily understandable overview of medical, scientific, and policy literature.
Text is written using short, clear sentences, using everyday English words, and avoiding complex grammatical structures. Consequently, a PLS can explain complicated medical research to nonexperts, thereby extending scientific information’s reach and empowering non-experts to act on the information they receive.
Further, scientists directly disseminate their findings to a wider audience outside of the scientific community, ensuring greater clarity and reducing the possibility of misinterpretation by the media or social media.
Even though the rationale for providing patients with plain language summaries is well understood, little is known about specific patient preferences for PLSs.
According to a survey published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, infographic-based plain language summaries (PLSs) are most preferred by patients and caregivers, followed by a text-only summary of medium complexity.
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