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Keeping it simple: UCB is working to make scientific information more accessible to patients

Picture of Catherine Bégard
Posted by
Catherine Bégard, Medical & Business Integrity EMEA
Knowledge empowers individuals living with severe diseases to be active in the management of their own health. It also enables more impactful patient-physician engagement. That is why patients want access to high-quality, relevant scientific information.

However, research and review articles in medical journals can be complex and written in a way that makes them useful only to those with considerable scientific or medical expertise.

One way to help increase the meaningfulness of and access to this wealth of information for patients could be the use of plain language within the peer-reviewed articles.

UCB researchers have published an article examining the value and feasibility of developing plain language summaries as part of peer-reviewed articles in medical journals. The article, which appears in the Therapeutic Innovation & Regulatory Science journal, shows there is an appetite among patients and physicians for more digestible specialized health-related information.

Physicians noted the value of the plain language summaries in generating dialogue, saving time and streamlining communication with patients, as patients are not completely dependent on them for information.

A predominant theme emerging from patients was the importance of knowledge and the sense of empowerment it engenders. Patients viewed the plain language summaries as tools to facilitate knowledge sharing and improve access to important information.

As one patient noted: “Creating and providing abstracts [plain language summaries] will help physicians build a good relationship with their patients. The abstracts are short, simple and easy to talk about.”

Walking the talk, our first peer-reviewed article including a plain language summary was recently published.

UCB is already active in sharing “lay summaries” of clinical study results on our website, and we view inclusion of plain language summaries in peer-reviewed publications as the next step and an important advance towards accessibility and sharing of scientific knowledge.

UCB is guiding best practice by further developing a framework for inclusion of plain language summaries as an integral part of peer-reviewed publications.