Systematic reviews (SRs) provide a rigorous synthesis of available evidence on a clinical question. Knowledge users need this information in a format that allows for quick reference with key messages highlighted.
Objective: Compare two formats for summarizing the results of SRs for knowledge users.
We developed an infographic and a critical appraisal to summarize the results of a Cochrane SR of drugs for treating acute migraine headaches in children. Knowledge users (n=58) attending a national meeting completed a questionnaire regarding their impressions of the two formats. Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to compare knowledge users' paired responses to the infographic and critical appraisal formats.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 most preferred), the infographic was rated 7.0 for clarity, 7.1 for comprehensibility, and 7.2 for aesthetic appeal. The critical appraisal was rated 7.8 for clarity, 7.6 for comprehensibility, and 5.0 for aesthetic appeal. Differences between the two formats were statistically significant for each factor. Regarding whether they would find the format of data presentation useful for their professional role, 90% responded yes for the critical appraisal vs 70% for the infographic (P < 0.07). Conversely, 90% felt the infographic would be useful for patients and caregivers vs 10% for the critical appraisal (P < 0.00). Respondents provided additional information on which formats may be preferred by different audiences: the infographic was engaging, attractive, easy to read, and captured a lot of information; however, some found it too busy, difficult to interpret, and difficult to determine the take-home message. Respondents found the critical appraisals to be clear, directive, professional, and concise; however, they found them more technical and less visually appealing. Respondents were divided over which format they preferred overall: 51% infographic, 49% critical appraisal. The majority (81%) preferred electronic over paper versions.
This information can guide the development of user-friendly summaries of Cochrane SRs that may be the most effective for different audiences.