Getting the language and content right in a plain language summary (PLS) can be tricky. How do you strike the balance between providing information in a clear way without ‘dumbing down’? Staff at Cochrane Norway have done a lot of user testing with people over a number of years. They suggest a “format aimed at any reader who is interested in the review topic but who is not necessarily familiar with systematic reviews”. They provide guidance and a checklist and recommend that PLS authors begin with the GRADE summary of findings table.
We will adopt this approach going forward and encourage you all to give it a try – or to seek assistance from someone with skills in drafting for a lay audience to help write your PLS.