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.

PRP is offering free mini-consultations to develop a Plain Language Summary (PLS) for recruitment.

Our consultant is amazing! She is the most knowledgeable, passionate, responsive, efficient per I have worked with in the area of health literacy.

Rebecca Sudore, MD

Professor, UCSF School of Medicine

How the free consultation works:

  1. Submit a short 4 question intake form. You will need to attach your Informed Consent Form and an example of a current study advertisement (if available.)
  2. In the next 7-10 days, our Plain Language consultant will draft a one-page plain language summary based on your ICF. PRP will send it to you for review. You can review and send back for one round of edits.
  3. Use the plain language summary to help formulate your recruitment material content. Having the plain language summary is a great tool to use in developing the right level of content for recruitment materials.

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.


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