Are Plain-Language Summaries Included in Published Reports of Evidence About Physiotherapy Interventions?

A plain-language summary (PLS) is a short and clearly stated version of a study’s results using non-scientific vocabulary that provide many advantages for patients and clinicians in the process of shared decision-making. Research articles tend to use complex language and plain language summaries can help lay people understand the main findings. But how many physiotherapy articles publish plain-language summaries?

This is the question this research team set out to answer. Their formal primary aim was  to investigate the extent to which published reports of research into the effects of physiotherapy interventions provide plain-language summaries. They then counted up the number of articles found during their search and worked out the proportion of total which had a PLS summary.

Their study found that the amount of articles producing plain-language summaries in going up but the total percentage it currently sits at quite a poor 13% of all physiotherapy publications.