Making Narrative Statements to Describe Treatment Effects

J Gen Intern Med. 2021 Jan;36(1):196-199. doi: 10.1007/s11606-020-06330-y. Epub 2020 Oct 27.


Accurately describing treatment effects using plain language and narrative statements is a critical step in communicating research findings to end users. However, the process of developing these narratives has not been historically guided by a specific framework. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Evidence-based Practice Center Program developed guidance for narrative summaries of treatment effects that identifies five constructs. We explicitly identify these constructs to facilitate developing narrative statements: (1) direction of effect, (2) size of effect, (3) clinical importance, (4) statistical significance, and (5) strength or certainty of evidence. These constructs clearly overlap. It may not always be feasible to address all five constructs. Based on context and intended audience, investigators can determine which constructs will be most important to address in narrative statements.

Keywords: dissemination; evidence-based medicine; plain language summary; statistics and numerical data; systematic reviews.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Narration*
  • United States