Lay summaries: text vs infographics

Really interesting new paper by the Cochran Library comparing the knowledge obtained from lay summary text versus infographics…

No difference in knowledge obtained from infographic or plain language summary of a Cochrane systematic review: three randomized controlled trials.

2018 May;97:86-94.


The aim of this study was to test the usefulness of an infographic in the translation of knowledge about health information from a Cochrane systematic review to lay and professional populations in comparison to a plain language summary (PLS) and scientific abstract (SA).


We conducted three parallel randomized trials with university students (n = 171), consumers (n = 99), and doctors (n = 64), to examine the effect of different summary formats of a Cochrane systematic review on the knowledge about health information presented in the review, reading experience, and perceived user-friendliness. In the trials involving students and doctors, an infographic was compared to a PLS and a SA, while in those with consumers, an infographic was compared to a PLS.


We found no difference in knowledge between the infographic and the text-based PLS in any of the trials or in the whole participant sample. All three participant groups preferred the infographic and gave it higher ratings for reading experience (d = 0.48 in the overall sample) and user-friendliness (d = 0.46 in the overall sample).


Although the infographic format was perceived as more enjoyable for reading, it was not better than a traditional, text-based PLS in the translation of knowledge about findings from a Cochrane systematic review.