Disseminating Results Back to Your Study Participants
Disseminating Results Back to your Study Participants
Research participants are an important group to consider disseminating research findings to, given that without them, research would not proceed! Returning research results to study participants is not yet routine practice among most researchers, however increasingly there are “calls to action” to do so. Recent research suggests that study participants desire to have research findings returned to them (both aggregate and individual-level results, where possible), and that doing so can help build trust and encourage future research participation.
Please see the resources and tools below to assist in your efforts to return research findings to study participants.
Narrative Summary Guidelines, Template, and Examples
A Narrative Summary is a written summary of a study’s research findings. It is a useful way to succinctly summarize the purpose, main findings, and impact of a research study. It is very similar to a Public Summary except that the intended audience is research participants. For guidance on how to create a Narrative Summary, please see the guidelines, template, and examples our Dissemination Team created below.
- Narrative Summary Guidelines
- Narrative Summary Template
- Narrative Summary Examples:
- Disseminating Research Findings Narrative Summary Example
- GROW Trial Narrative Summary Examples: English and Spanish
An infographic is another useful way to summarize a research study through the use of charts, imagery, and graphics with minimal text. Examples of infographics that summarize research study findings can be found below. (Examples below were created in Canva. Piktochart is another easy-to-use program for creating high-quality infographics.)
- Disseminating Research Findings Infographic Example
- Infographic Template
- GROW Trial Infographic Examples: English and Spanish
The following Dissemination Toolkits provide guidance on returning research results to study participants. These can also be found here.
To access the toolkits, click on the individual toolkits below.
- MRCT Center of BWH and Harvard Return of Aggregate Results to Participants – Includes Principles, Guidance Document, and Toolkit (see “Deliverables”). Toolkit includes hands-on tools for creating summaries for aggregate study findings; Includes helpful templates, checklists, and examples of plain language summaries.
- MRCT Center of BWH and Harvard Return of Individual Results to Participants – Includes Principles, Recommendations Document, and Toolkit (see “Deliverables”). Toolkit includes hands-on tools for returning individual study results to research participants; Includes dissemination planning figures for determining which individual findings should be returned and when, as well as planning tools and case studies.
- NASEM – Returning Individual Results to Research Participants: Full Book – Comprehensive consensus study report that reviews the current evidence on the benefits, harms, and costs of returning individual research results, while considering the ethical, social, operational, and regulatory aspects of the practice. Recommendations document can be found here.
The following are resources on health literacy, plain language, and readability.