Do Cochrane summaries help student midwives understand the findings of Cochrane systematic reviews: The BRIEF randomised trial

Fiona Alderdice, Jenny McNeill, Toby Lasserson, Elaine Beller, Margaret Carroll, Vanora Hundley, Judith Sunderland, Declan Devane, Jane Noyes, Susan Key, Sarah Norris, Janine Wyn-Davies, Mike Clarke

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Abstract

Background: Abstracts and plain language summaries (PLS) are often the first, and sometimes the only, point of contact between readers and systematic reviews. It is important to identify how these summaries are used and to know the impact of different elements, including the authors' conclusions. The trial aims to assess whether (a) the abstract or the PLS of a Cochrane Review is a better aid for midwifery students in assessing the evidence, (b) inclusion of authors' conclusions helps them and (c) there is an interaction between the type of summary and the presence or absence of the conclusions. Methods: Eight hundred thirteen midwifery students from nine universities in the UK and Ireland were recruited to this 2 × 2 factorial trial (abstract versus PLS, conclusions versus no conclusions). They were randomly allocated to one of four groups and asked to recall knowledge after reading one of four summary formats of two Cochrane Reviews, one with clear findings and one with uncertain findings. The primary outcome was the proportion of students who identified the appropriate statement to describe the main findings of the two reviews as assessed by an expert panel. Results: There was no statistically significant difference in correct response between the abstract and PLS groups in the clear finding example (abstract, 59.6 %; PLS, 64.2 %; risk difference 4.6 %; CI -0.2 to 11.3) or the uncertain finding example (42.7 %, 39.3 %, -3.4 %, -10.1 to 3.4). There was no significant difference between the conclusion and no conclusion groups in the example with clear findings (conclusions, 63.3 %; no conclusions, 60.5 %; 2.8 %; -3.9 to 9.5), but there was a significant difference in the example with uncertain findings (44.7 %; 37.3 %; 7.3 %; 0.6 to 14.1, p = 0.03). PLS without conclusions in the uncertain finding review had the lowest proportion of correct responses (32.5 %). Prior knowledge and belief predicted student response to the clear finding review, while years of midwifery education predicted response to the uncertain finding review. Conclusions: Abstracts with and without conclusions generated similar student responses. PLS with conclusions gave similar results to abstracts with and without conclusions. Removing the conclusions from a PLS with uncertain findings led to more problems with interpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalSystematic Reviews
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

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Midwifery
Language
Students
Ireland
Reading
Education

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Alderdice, Fiona ; McNeill, Jenny ; Lasserson, Toby ; Beller, Elaine ; Carroll, Margaret ; Hundley, Vanora ; Sunderland, Judith ; Devane, Declan ; Noyes, Jane ; Key, Susan ; Norris, Sarah ; Wyn-Davies, Janine ; Clarke, Mike. / Do Cochrane summaries help student midwives understand the findings of Cochrane systematic reviews : The BRIEF randomised trial. In: Systematic Reviews. 2016 ; Vol. 5, No. 1.
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title = "Do Cochrane summaries help student midwives understand the findings of Cochrane systematic reviews: The BRIEF randomised trial",
abstract = "Background: Abstracts and plain language summaries (PLS) are often the first, and sometimes the only, point of contact between readers and systematic reviews. It is important to identify how these summaries are used and to know the impact of different elements, including the authors' conclusions. The trial aims to assess whether (a) the abstract or the PLS of a Cochrane Review is a better aid for midwifery students in assessing the evidence, (b) inclusion of authors' conclusions helps them and (c) there is an interaction between the type of summary and the presence or absence of the conclusions. Methods: Eight hundred thirteen midwifery students from nine universities in the UK and Ireland were recruited to this 2 × 2 factorial trial (abstract versus PLS, conclusions versus no conclusions). They were randomly allocated to one of four groups and asked to recall knowledge after reading one of four summary formats of two Cochrane Reviews, one with clear findings and one with uncertain findings. The primary outcome was the proportion of students who identified the appropriate statement to describe the main findings of the two reviews as assessed by an expert panel. Results: There was no statistically significant difference in correct response between the abstract and PLS groups in the clear finding example (abstract, 59.6 {\%}; PLS, 64.2 {\%}; risk difference 4.6 {\%}; CI -0.2 to 11.3) or the uncertain finding example (42.7 {\%}, 39.3 {\%}, -3.4 {\%}, -10.1 to 3.4). There was no significant difference between the conclusion and no conclusion groups in the example with clear findings (conclusions, 63.3 {\%}; no conclusions, 60.5 {\%}; 2.8 {\%}; -3.9 to 9.5), but there was a significant difference in the example with uncertain findings (44.7 {\%}; 37.3 {\%}; 7.3 {\%}; 0.6 to 14.1, p = 0.03). PLS without conclusions in the uncertain finding review had the lowest proportion of correct responses (32.5 {\%}). Prior knowledge and belief predicted student response to the clear finding review, while years of midwifery education predicted response to the uncertain finding review. Conclusions: Abstracts with and without conclusions generated similar student responses. PLS with conclusions gave similar results to abstracts with and without conclusions. Removing the conclusions from a PLS with uncertain findings led to more problems with interpretation.",
author = "Fiona Alderdice and Jenny McNeill and Toby Lasserson and Elaine Beller and Margaret Carroll and Vanora Hundley and Judith Sunderland and Declan Devane and Jane Noyes and Susan Key and Sarah Norris and Janine Wyn-Davies and Mike Clarke",
year = "2016",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1186/s13643-016-0214-8",
language = "English",
volume = "5",
journal = "Systematic Reviews",
issn = "2046-4053",
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Alderdice, F, McNeill, J, Lasserson, T, Beller, E, Carroll, M, Hundley, V, Sunderland, J, Devane, D, Noyes, J, Key, S, Norris, S, Wyn-Davies, J & Clarke, M 2016, 'Do Cochrane summaries help student midwives understand the findings of Cochrane systematic reviews: The BRIEF randomised trial' Systematic Reviews, vol. 5, no. 1, 40. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-016-0214-8

Do Cochrane summaries help student midwives understand the findings of Cochrane systematic reviews : The BRIEF randomised trial. / Alderdice, Fiona; McNeill, Jenny; Lasserson, Toby; Beller, Elaine; Carroll, Margaret; Hundley, Vanora; Sunderland, Judith; Devane, Declan; Noyes, Jane; Key, Susan; Norris, Sarah; Wyn-Davies, Janine; Clarke, Mike.

In: Systematic Reviews, Vol. 5, No. 1, 40, 01.03.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do Cochrane summaries help student midwives understand the findings of Cochrane systematic reviews

T2 - The BRIEF randomised trial

AU - Alderdice, Fiona

AU - McNeill, Jenny

AU - Lasserson, Toby

AU - Beller, Elaine

AU - Carroll, Margaret

AU - Hundley, Vanora

AU - Sunderland, Judith

AU - Devane, Declan

AU - Noyes, Jane

AU - Key, Susan

AU - Norris, Sarah

AU - Wyn-Davies, Janine

AU - Clarke, Mike

PY - 2016/3/1

Y1 - 2016/3/1

N2 - Background: Abstracts and plain language summaries (PLS) are often the first, and sometimes the only, point of contact between readers and systematic reviews. It is important to identify how these summaries are used and to know the impact of different elements, including the authors' conclusions. The trial aims to assess whether (a) the abstract or the PLS of a Cochrane Review is a better aid for midwifery students in assessing the evidence, (b) inclusion of authors' conclusions helps them and (c) there is an interaction between the type of summary and the presence or absence of the conclusions. Methods: Eight hundred thirteen midwifery students from nine universities in the UK and Ireland were recruited to this 2 × 2 factorial trial (abstract versus PLS, conclusions versus no conclusions). They were randomly allocated to one of four groups and asked to recall knowledge after reading one of four summary formats of two Cochrane Reviews, one with clear findings and one with uncertain findings. The primary outcome was the proportion of students who identified the appropriate statement to describe the main findings of the two reviews as assessed by an expert panel. Results: There was no statistically significant difference in correct response between the abstract and PLS groups in the clear finding example (abstract, 59.6 %; PLS, 64.2 %; risk difference 4.6 %; CI -0.2 to 11.3) or the uncertain finding example (42.7 %, 39.3 %, -3.4 %, -10.1 to 3.4). There was no significant difference between the conclusion and no conclusion groups in the example with clear findings (conclusions, 63.3 %; no conclusions, 60.5 %; 2.8 %; -3.9 to 9.5), but there was a significant difference in the example with uncertain findings (44.7 %; 37.3 %; 7.3 %; 0.6 to 14.1, p = 0.03). PLS without conclusions in the uncertain finding review had the lowest proportion of correct responses (32.5 %). Prior knowledge and belief predicted student response to the clear finding review, while years of midwifery education predicted response to the uncertain finding review. Conclusions: Abstracts with and without conclusions generated similar student responses. PLS with conclusions gave similar results to abstracts with and without conclusions. Removing the conclusions from a PLS with uncertain findings led to more problems with interpretation.

AB - Background: Abstracts and plain language summaries (PLS) are often the first, and sometimes the only, point of contact between readers and systematic reviews. It is important to identify how these summaries are used and to know the impact of different elements, including the authors' conclusions. The trial aims to assess whether (a) the abstract or the PLS of a Cochrane Review is a better aid for midwifery students in assessing the evidence, (b) inclusion of authors' conclusions helps them and (c) there is an interaction between the type of summary and the presence or absence of the conclusions. Methods: Eight hundred thirteen midwifery students from nine universities in the UK and Ireland were recruited to this 2 × 2 factorial trial (abstract versus PLS, conclusions versus no conclusions). They were randomly allocated to one of four groups and asked to recall knowledge after reading one of four summary formats of two Cochrane Reviews, one with clear findings and one with uncertain findings. The primary outcome was the proportion of students who identified the appropriate statement to describe the main findings of the two reviews as assessed by an expert panel. Results: There was no statistically significant difference in correct response between the abstract and PLS groups in the clear finding example (abstract, 59.6 %; PLS, 64.2 %; risk difference 4.6 %; CI -0.2 to 11.3) or the uncertain finding example (42.7 %, 39.3 %, -3.4 %, -10.1 to 3.4). There was no significant difference between the conclusion and no conclusion groups in the example with clear findings (conclusions, 63.3 %; no conclusions, 60.5 %; 2.8 %; -3.9 to 9.5), but there was a significant difference in the example with uncertain findings (44.7 %; 37.3 %; 7.3 %; 0.6 to 14.1, p = 0.03). PLS without conclusions in the uncertain finding review had the lowest proportion of correct responses (32.5 %). Prior knowledge and belief predicted student response to the clear finding review, while years of midwifery education predicted response to the uncertain finding review. Conclusions: Abstracts with and without conclusions generated similar student responses. PLS with conclusions gave similar results to abstracts with and without conclusions. Removing the conclusions from a PLS with uncertain findings led to more problems with interpretation.

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U2 - 10.1186/s13643-016-0214-8

DO - 10.1186/s13643-016-0214-8

M3 - Article

VL - 5

JO - Systematic Reviews

JF - Systematic Reviews

SN - 2046-4053

IS - 1

M1 - 40

ER -