Summary of Findings tables

Summary of Findings table

The Summary of Findings table aims to help readers understand the results of a Cochrane review more correctly and find key information faster by:

  • highlighting the most important outcomes, both benefits and harms
  • presenting what is known and not known about each of these outcomes
  • presenting how sure we can be of the evidence for each outcome

The Summary of Findings table is one of the outputs of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system for evaluating certainty of evidence. Authors produce a Summary of Findings table by grading the evidence, one outcome at a time. 

The Summary of Findings table format is based on extensive feedback from stakeholders and testing with users.

The Summary of Findings table is a key building block for many other derivative products, including our plain language summary formats, SUPPORT Summaries, SURE rapid responses and policy briefs, and DECIDE frameworks for going from evidence to decisions or recommendations.

How is the Summary of Findings table format currently being used?

Summary of Findings tables are increasingly being incorporated into Cochrane Reviews and are also used by authors of other systematic reviews, for instance at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The Cochrane Collaboration now defines Summary of Findings tables as “highly desirable” in their author guidelines (MERCIR).

Read more about our ongoing work to explore an interactive format for Summary of Findings Tables.

Templates and instructions for use

See the Cochrane Handbook’s chapter 11.5

Relevant publications from staff at Cochrane Norway

  1. Rosenbaum SE, Glenton C, Oxman AD. Summary-of-findings tables in Cochrane reviews improved understanding and rapid retrieval of key information. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 2010 Jun;63(6):620-6.
  2. Rosenbaum SE, Glenton C, Nylund HK, Oxman AD. User testing and stakeholder feedback contributed to the development of understandable and useful Summary of Findings tables for Cochrane reviews. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 2010 Jun;63(6):607-19.
  3. Glenton C, Kho M, Underland V, Nilsen, ES, Oxman A. Summaries of findings, descriptions of interventions and information about adverse effects would make reviews more informative. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 2006, 59 (8): 770-778.


This research has been supported through funds provided by the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group and the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services. Ongoing work is supported in part by the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 258583 (DECIDE project).