Our Work

Health Literacy in Clinical Research

Health Literacy in Clinical Research Project-Specific Website

Principles of health literacy provide a basis from which to adopt and integrate health literacy practices into clinical research.

Health Literacy in Clinical Research

Clear research communications that are understandable to patient and participant communities are critical to inclusive, representative research studies.

After completing work on return of research results that included a focus on health literacy, in 2018 the MRCT Center convened a workgroup of diverse representatives from across the research ecosystem to address the issue of limited health literacy in the clinical research context. Guided by the fundamental belief that communicators are responsible for sharing information in ways that are designed to promote understanding and empowerment, one of the workgroup’s goals was to develop clinical research-focused health literacy resources that support the integration of health literacy strategies across the clinical trial life cycle. The resulting Health Literacy in Clinical Research website launched in October 2019.

Click Here to access our interactive project-specific website >

Since then, we strive to develop MRCT Center deliverables with an eye towards promoting understanding, especially when the audience includes patients, participants, and caregivers. Our plain language, patient-centric Clinical Research Glossary which was piloted in 2020 continues to grow via a collaborative consensus-building workgroup and adopted as a CDISC global standard in April 2023.

Our newly expanded Clinical Research Glossary launched in April 2024 and includes over 110 new terms and their definitions, customized images for most of the terms, and additional information and resources to provide users with valuable background information. Looking ahead, each new term and its definition, will continue to go through the robust, consensus-based creation process as well as the CDISC public review process that invites external users to share their feedback. Further, the Clinical Research Glossary has improved search functionality, supportive accessibility features, and ample opportunities to share feedback on the site itself. The content is also easier to download for external users in a variety of formats.

Other Health Literacy in Clinical Research efforts include a suite of Data Literacy Infographics to be released in summer 2024, an ongoing virtual Health Literacy Training and Checklist for IRBs, and COVID-19 Research Flyers.


  • Establish and support initiatives that increase the use of health literacy best practices when developing clinical research-related communications for patients, participants and their caregivers.
  • Develop and share resources with sponsors and funders, investigators and their study teams, and institutional review boards that maximize their efforts to integrate health literacy principles throughout the clinical trial life cycle from recruitment and informed consent through close-out and return of results.
  • Promote the use of plain language in clinical research via a harmonized, patient co-developed Clinical Research Glossary that can be used across the research industry, and used by research professionals and potential participants to foster clear, bi-directional information exchange.

Key Milestones

Project leadership & STAFF

For Health Literacy in Clinical Research project, please link here.

For Clinical Research Glossary, please link here.

Project Resources