Plain Language Consultation

Did you know...

  • 41% of American adults have basic or below basic literacy skills? (Source: National Assessment of Adult Literacy)
  • About 50% of Americans read at or below grade 8? (Source: New England Journal of Medicine - Readability Standards for Informed-Consent Forms as Compared with Actual Readability)
  • Only 5% of American adults age 65+ have proficient health literacy?  (Source: National Assessment of Adult Literacy)
  • Research subjects often do not understand fundamental concepts required for participation? (Source: AHRQ Informed Consent and Authorization Toolkit for Minimal Risk Research)

Readability goes beyond grade level and includes font, layout and length. Plain language and health literacy consultation can help ensure your research communications are accessible to the audience you’re trying to reach.

"My recent experience with CTSI’s participant recruitment consulting services was a pleasure from start to finish.  Submitting a request was easy, and I was assigned a consultant within 24 hours.  My consultant was a great match for my needs – one of my biggest concerns about using the service was the possibility of working with a consultant who had little to no familiarity with the type of work we were doing.  My consultant had relevant background knowledge, which was terrific, and during our initial conversation she incisively and efficiently honed in on exactly what we needed help with.  The feedback she gave us on our materials was even more helpful than I expected it would be – and she delivered her work ahead of schedule.  Her input made a valuable contribution to our effort, and I’m glad that this service put me in touch with her."

Marie Murphy, PhD, UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies

How the free consultation works:

  1. Submit a Consultation Services recruitment request. Indicate in the request that you are interested in the “Plain Language Promo”.
  2. In the next few days, your consultant will reach out to you to get started. You will need to provide your consent form at this time. Your consultant will review the consent form; she may have a few additional questions about your study and will reach out to you directly.
  3. Your consultant will draft a one-page plain language summary and send it back to you for review. If you have questions or changes, you can work with the consultant for up to one round of revisions to ensure the final product is at an 8th grade reading level.  

How to use it:

Your consultant will use your consent form to create a one-page plain language summary with study descriptions that are readable, understandable, and actionable. This summary will include information commonly used in study fliers, social media ads, or other advertisements. Once your summary is complete, you can use these descriptions in any of your recruitment materials.

You can use this one-page summary in a few ways:

  1. Developing new recruitment materials: Use the study descriptions to create new fliers, social media ads, and other recruitment materials.  Your one-page plain language summary will provide the most common information included in recruitment materials, making it easy to create advertisements that are easy to understand. 
  2. Simplifying existing recruitment materials: Use the new language to update existing recruitment materials. If you think your study descriptions in your recruitment materials might be too complex, but you haven’t had the time or expertise to simplify it, this is an easy way to make it more accessible.  

Note that you will need to submit a minor modification to the IRB for any changes to your recruitment materials.

Submit a request

Terms and Conditions

Free plain language consultation is available to UCSF studies that have a UCSF IRB. You may wish to further engage your consultant for more extensive content review such as revising consent forms or website text. You are welcome to continue working with your consultant using study funding; simply email [email protected] with the speedtype or chartstring.