Free plain language resources for research

Download The PRISM Readability Toolkit
Our 81-page plain language handbook

Try out PRISM Online Training
Our web-based plain language workshop

Easy-to-understand research communications for the real world

The Program for Readability In Science & Medicine (PRISM) was inspired by health literacy concerns in health care and health research. PRISM’s goal is to bring readability awareness and plain language training and tools to researchers nationwide. Using plain language is a proven way to help make scientific and medical information easier for study participants, patients, and the public to understand.

Providing easy-to-understand health information is a fundamental part of patient-centered research and an important ethical, compliance, and safety concern. Most institutional review boards (IRBs) now recommend or require that research consent forms and other participant materials meet a reading level target of sixth to eighth grade. 

Free resources for the research community

PRISM promotes plain language and patient-centered research at KPWHRI through in-house readability editing and training services available to our scientists and their collaborators. We provide editorial support for research abstracts for the public, consent forms, study invitation letters, surveys, and other study materials. We also provide two public-domain resources for the research community and other health care professionals: 

The PRISM Readability Toolkit

A free, 81-page plain language handbook illustrating why health literacy is important and how to improve the readability of research consent forms and other materials for study participants. Contents include:

  • Plain language principles and strategies.
  • Quick reference guide and editing checklist.
  • Plain language alternatives to complex terms.
  • Easy-to-read template language for consent forms and HIPAA authorizations.
  • Links to helpful readability resources.

Download the PRISM Readability Toolkit (PDF, 888 KB).

PRISM Online Training

A free, web-based plain language tutorial for research professionals, including scientists, research staff, Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), or communications staff. The hour-long training covers health literacy and readability, plain language strategies and examples, and interactive editing examples and exercises.

Access PRISM Online Training at


Selected publications

Ridpath JR, Larson EB, Greene SM. Can integrating health literacy into the patient-centered medical home help us weather the perfect storm? J Gen Int Med. 2012 May;275:588-94. doi: 10.1007/s/11606-011-1964-6. Epub 12 Jan 4. PubMed

Ridpath JR, Wiese CJ, Greene SM. Looking at consent forms through a participant-centered lens: the PRISM readability toolkit. Am J Health Promot. 2009 July-Aug;23(6)371-5. Doi: 10.4278ajhp.080613-CIT-94. PubMed


For more information about PRISM resources, please contact:

Jessica Ridpath
Communications Manager