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Explaining risks: turning numerical data into meaningful pictures [Clinical review]

Edwards, Adrian G., Elwyn, Glyn and Mulley, Al 2002. Explaining risks: turning numerical data into meaningful pictures [Clinical review]. British Medical Journal (BMJ) 324 (7341) , pp. 827-830. 10.1136/bmj.324.7341.827

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The way in which information is presented affects both how health professionals introduce it and how patients use it The “information age” has profound implications for the way we work. The volume of information derives from biomedical and clinical evaluative sciences and is increasingly available to clinicians and patients through the world wide web.1 We need to process information, derive knowledge, and disseminate the knowledge into clinical practice. This is particularly challenging for doctors in the context of the consultation. Information often highlights uncertainties, including collective professional uncertainty, which we address with more and better research; individual professional uncertainty, which we address with professional education and support for decisions; and stochastic uncertainty (the irreducible element of chance), which we address with effective risk communication about the harms and benefits of different options for treatment or care. In this article we discuss whether the shift towards a greater use of information in consultations is helpful and summarise the current literature on risk communication. We also explore how information can be used without losing the benefits that are traditionally associated with the art, rather than the science, of medicine.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN: 0959-8138
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:44

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