Background: Translating Cochrane summaries is one way of disseminating evidence to all people irrespective of language barriers. Reading the summaries in one's mother tongue may also lead to better understanding of the content. We wanted to know if understanding of Plain language summaries is better when they are read in their native tongue (Tamil) rather than in English among native Tamil speakers who can read and write in English too.
Objective: To understand the value of Tamil Plain language summaries in bilingual allied health students.
Methods: We chose one Plain language summary (Garlic for the common cold CD006206) and formulated three questions in multiple-choice format were formulated in Tamil and English. A total of 110 allied health student participants were randomly assigned to the Tamil or English group. Each participant read the summary and answered the three questions (there was no time limit for reading the summary) and the results were compared.
Results: Both groups performed poorly for all three questions. There was no substantial difference in correct responses between the two groups. The proportion of participants with incorrect responses ranged from 87% to 59% in the English group and from 88% to 57% in the Tamil group.
Conclusion: Reading the Plain language summaries in Tamil did not improve the understanding of Plain language summaries among native Tamil speakers.