“Summaries for Patients” and other plain language summaries help patients and others understand medical studies and guidelines
Heard or read about research on a medical topic but not sure if the news is reliable? Looking for trusted information on a treatment or drug carefully reviewed by experts? Do scientific articles seem to contain good information, but they are hard to understand?
Not sure where to go next? You are not alone.
These plain language summaries are great places to start for medical and health information that has been rewritten for those of us who are not scientists or health care professionals. Much of the information is free, and often there are great links to reliable Web pages for additional information.
- Summaries for Patients are short plain language summaries of medical research and guides for doctors.
- Discover how researchers did the published study and what they found, including
- What the problem was and why it is studied
- Who was studied and why the study was done
- What the scientists found and what the limits of the study were
- Find overviews about clinical guidelines -official recommendations for doctors in treating patientsTo locate a specific summary
- Go to Patient Information
- Follow the directions under the Summaries for Patients heading
- patientINFORM plain language summary Web sites are provided only by participating science and medicine publishers.
These summaries are provided to help patients or their caregivers more fully understand research results. They also provide links to the full text of many research articles.
Some full text articles are free. Others require a reduce-fee payment (much less than ordering from the publisher!).
(Always check to see if you can get the article for free or at even lower cost from your area public, medical, or academic library – most libraries will try to help anyone who contacts them directly)
Independent high-quality evidence for health care decision making
- Cochrane Collaboration provides well researched reviews of the strongest evidence available about healthcare interventions (as drugs, medical tests, and medical procedures). Every available treatment/test has not yet been reviewed. However each review is conducted in depth by experts.
To find plain language and audio summaries of Cochrane Reviews
- Go to the Cochrane Reviews Home page and scroll down to Browse Free Summaries
- Click on a topic OR scroll down and click on All Summaries
- The All Summaries page will allow you to
- Search by entering words and short phrases (as headache, multiple sclerosis drugs, asthma acupuncture
- Browse by Health Topics (left column)
- Include only these in the search results
- Podcasts – audio summaries
- PEARLS – guidance and advice for real time decisions
Related Blog Items
- How to read a research paper (and also understand medical/health news items)
- HealthNewsReview.org – Independent Expert Reviews of News Stories (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
Cannot find a plain language summary with the above resources?
Consider asking a reference librarian for help at your local public, academic, or hospital library. Many academic and hospital libraries provide at least limited reference service to the public.
Call or email them for information about their services.
You may also contact me at jmflahiff@msncom. I will do my best to reply within 48 hours.