Towards a more patient-centered clinical trial process: A systematic review of interventions incorporating health literacy best practices

Mehnaz Bader*, Linda Zheng, Deepika Rao, Olayinka Shiyanbola, Laurie Myers, Terry Davis, Catina O'Leary, Michael McKee, Michael Wolf, Annlouise R. Assaf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: A 2019 public workshop convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Roundtable on Health Literacy identified a need to develop evidence-based guidance for best practices for health literacy and patient activation in clinical trials. Purpose: To identify studies of health literacy interventions within medical care or clinical trial settings that were associated with improved measures of health literacy or patient activation, to help inform best practices in the clinical trial process. Data sources: Literature searches were conducted in PubMed, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, SCOPUS, Cochrane, and Web of Science from January 2009 to June 2021. Study selection: Of 3592 records screened, 22 records investigating 27 unique health literacy interventions in randomized controlled studies were included for qualitative synthesis. Data extraction: Data screening and abstraction were performed following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Data synthesis: Types of health literacy interventions were multimedia or technology-based (11 studies), simplification of written material (six studies) and in-person sessions (five studies). These interventions were applied at various stages in the healthcare and clinical trial process. All studies used unique outcome measures, including patient comprehension, quality of informed consent, and patient activation and engagement. Conclusions: The findings of our study suggest that best practice guidelines recommend health literacy interventions during the clinical trial process, presentation of information in multiple forms, involvement of patients in information optimization, and improved standardization in health literacy outcome measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106733
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Clinical trial process
  • Health literacy
  • Patient-centered
  • Qualitative synthesis
  • Systematic literature review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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