Leading Medical Research Non-profit Wins Plain Language Award

Only recently launched, the Cochrane Summaries website (summaries.cochrane.org) has received global attention, which reached a pinnacle when The Cochrane Collaboration was awarded the runner-up trophy for the best public website by the Plain English Campaign, which has been “fighting for crystal-clear communication since 1979.”

David Tovey, the Editor-in-Chief of The Cochrane Library, explains that "The Cochrane Summaries website aims to deliver the credible, accessible, and impartial information that patients and carers need to improve understanding and promote shared decision-making."

A spokesperson for the Campaign indicated that Cochrane Summaries earned the 2011 runner-up award because of its unique ability to use plain language summaries to explain medical research.  “The Collaboration is the pre-eminent source for appraisals of medical trials, but those conclusions are only useful to the people they reach. Plain Language Summaries achieve that goal,” expressed Catherine McIlwain, the Consumer Co-ordinator for The Cochrane Collaboration.

Each year, a handful of the best (and worst) examples of plain language are publicly honoured by the Plain English Campaign. It reviews documents and websites to ensure that public information is presented in a clear fashion. Websites are judged for their content, design and layout. The design of Cochrane Summaries, focusing on easily accessible information, earned this recognition for The Collaboration.

“On the [old] Cochrane Library, these summaries were freely available underneath the Abstract – [but] you had to know they were there. The logical next step was, therefore, to provide the summaries by themselves on the Collaboration website,” points out Janet Wale, a convenor for the Cochrane Consumer Network.  “This brought the information to a place where the public can readily access it; and provides a stimulus for Review Groups to put added effort into the summaries. It is a great introduction to The Cochrane Library.”

The Plain English Campaign awarded the prize to The Cochrane Collaboration during a ceremony at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, UK on December 9, 2011. McIlwain and Frances Kellie, Deputy Managing Editor of the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group, accepted the award on behalf of The Collaboration. While accepting the award, McIlwain stated, “The Cochrane Collaboration believes that information is the building block of change. For that change to occur, evidence of the effects of medical treatments, or the lack thereof, must be available to the public. Cochrane Summaries provides those details in plain language so that consumers can make informed decisions about their health care.”




For more information:

Catherine McIlwain
Consumer Co-ordinator
Cochrane Collaboration Cochrane Operations Unit

+44 1865 522723

About The Cochrane Collaboration:

The Cochrane Collaboration is the world's leading independent assessor of medical interventions and medical research. It is a not‐for‐profit organisation of over 28,000 contributors from more than 100 countries and is dedicated to making up‐to‐date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare treatment readily available worldwide. Cochrane contributors evaluate and synthesize research in all aspects of health care by mining the existing research to find the best possible evidence and identify research gaps. This information is presented in systematic reviews, known as Cochrane Reviews, which are updated periodically to account for new evidence and are published online in The Cochrane Library (www.thecochranelibrary.com). Cochrane Reviews help health providers, practitioners and patients make well‐informed decisions about health care.