What are lay summaries?

Lay summaries are documents that report the results of medical research in a way that is easy to understand for non-expert audiences. They are sometimes called plain language summaries.

Why are they important?

Medical research findings have traditionally been communicated with an expert audience in mind, including physicians, researchers, and policy makers.

Patients are central to the clinical research process, are the ultimate beneficiaries of clinical research, and have more autonomy than ever when it comes to decisions about their health. It’s therefore crucial that research findings are communicated to patients in an accessible and easy-to-understand format. Lay summaries are an excellent way of achieving this goal.

In recognition of this important shift in the focus of healthcare communications, the EU now requires clinical trial sponsors to provide trial results in a format understandable to lay persons (regulation 536/2014).