Summary-of-findings Tables in Cochrane Reviews Improved Understanding and Rapid Retrieval of Key Information

J Clin Epidemiol. 2010 Jun;63(6):620-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2009.12.014.


Objective: To measure the effects of a summary-of-findings (SoF) table on user satisfaction, understanding, and time spent finding key results in a Cochrane review.

Study design and setting: We randomized participants in an evidence-based practice workshop (randomized controlled trial [RCT] I) and a Cochrane Collaboration entities meeting (RCT II) to receive a Cochrane review with or without an SoF table. In RCT I, we measured user satisfaction. In RCT II, we measured correct comprehension and time spent finding key results.

Results: RCT I: Participants with the SoF table (n=47) were more likely to "agree" or "strongly agree" that it was easy to find results for important outcomes than (n=25) participants without the SoF table-68% vs. 40% (P=0.021). RCT II: Participants with the SoF table (n=18) were more likely to correctly answer two questions regarding results than (n=15) those without the SoF table: 93% vs. 44% (P=0.003) and 87% vs. 11% (P<0.001). Participants with the SoF table spent an average of 90 seconds to find key information compared with 4 minutes for participants without the SoF table (P=0.002).

Conclusion: In two small trials, we found that inclusion of an SoF table in a review improved understanding and rapid retrieval of key findings compared with reviews with no SoF table.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Comprehension*
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Data Display / standards
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods*
  • Research Design
  • Review Literature as Topic*
  • Time Factors