The interactive Summary of Findings table

The key messages from a systematic review in a concise format

In 2011 InfoDesignLab began collaborating with scientists at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo and became a partner in the DECIDE project, which ran from January 2011 to December 2015. The project was co-funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme and the objective is “to improve the dissemination of evidence-based recommendations”.

One of the outputs we worked on for five year is the interactive Summary of Findings tables, the next generation of summary of findings tables designed for a range of audiences: clinicians, policy makers or the public.

The interactive Summary of Findings (iSoF) tables present the key messages from a systematic review in a concise format, including the most important outcomes (both benefits and harms), the size of the effects, and the certainty of the evidence. The iSoFs enable producers to generate a default interactive table for end-users and enables end-users to ‘drill-down’ for more information.

Designing a tool for both producers and end-users made the design process especially complex. Our goal was not to design a one-off data visualisation or infographic, but to design a system that would enable producers to visualise information for final users who would be able to navigate through the information interactively.

On top of this, the data itself are challenging since they would result from different kinds of reviews, including those without numerical estimates of effects. Most people (including clinicians) without research training or experience have similar levels of health numeracy, regardless of their level of education and they struggle understanding those data.

The good news is that complex data presented through well-designed displays can turn into information that ease cognitive load, make computation simpler and engage. In the past five years we have designed according to a human-centred approach and what you see today is the result of an iterative process made of cycles of prototyping, testing and revisions.

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