Navigation Links
Poorly presented risk statistics could misinform health decisions
Date:3/15/2011

Choosing the appropriate way to present risk statistics is key to helping people make well-informed decisions. A new Cochrane Systematic Review found that health professionals and consumers may change their perceptions when the same risks and risk reductions are presented using alternative statistical formats.

Risk statistics can be used persuasively to present health interventions in different lights. The different ways of expressing risk can prove confusing and there has been much debate about how to improve the communication of health statistics.

For example, you could read that a drug cuts the risk of hip fracture over a three year period by 50%. At first sight, this would seem like an incredible breakthrough. In fact, what it might equally mean is that without taking the drug 1% of people have fractures, and with the drug only 0.5% do. Now the benefit seems to be much less. Another way of phrasing it would be that 200 people need to take the drug for three years to prevent one incidence of hip fracture. In this case, the drug could start to look a rather expensive option.

Statisticians have terms to describe each type of presentation. The statement of a 50% reduction is typically expressed as a Relative Risk Reduction (RRR). Saying that 0.5% fewer people will have broken hips is an Absolute Risk Reduction (ARR). Saying that 200 people need to be treated to prevent one occurrence is referred to as the Number Needed to Treat (NNT). Furthermore, these effects can be shown as a frequency, where the effect is expressed as 1 out of 200 people avoiding a hip fracture.

In the new study, Cochrane researchers reviewed data from 35 studies assessing understanding of risk statistics by health professionals and consumers. They found that participants in the studies understood frequencies better than probabilities. Relative risk reductions, as in "the drug cuts the risk by 50%", were less well understood. Participants perceived risk reductions to be inappropriately greater compared to the same benefits presented using absolute risk or NNT.

"People perceive risk reductions to be larger and are more persuaded to adopt a health intervention when its effect is presented in relative terms," said Elie Akl of the Department of Medicine, University at Buffalo, USA and first author on the review. "What we don't know yet is whether doctors or policymakers might actually make different decisions based on the way health benefits are presented."

Although the researchers say further studies are required to explore how different risk formats affect behaviour, they believe there are strong logical arguments for not reporting relative values alone. "Relative risk statistics do not allow a fair comparison of benefits and harms in the same way as absolute values do," said lead researcher Holger Schnemann of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. "If relative risk is to be used, then the absolute change in risk should also be given, as relative risk alone is likely to misinform decisions."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jennifer Beal
healthnews@wiley.com
44-012-437-70633
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. AGH Study Shows High Rates of Poorly Controlled Asthma Among Inner-City Pittsburgh Children
2. Long-acting beta-agonists most effective step-up therapy for children with poorly controlled asthma
3. Poorly understood cell plays role in immunity against the flu
4. Older people in assisted-living facilities sleep poorly
5. Connor Sport Court Lays the Ground for NBA All-Star Jam Session Presented by Adidas
6. Digital Signatures Presented at Electronic Document Management Conference
7. Compex , Leaders in Electronic Muscle Stimulators, Sponsors the Jelly Belly Cycling Team Presented by Kenda
8. Game Ready(R) Presented with Frost & Sullivan 2010 Product Differentiation Excellence Award
9. New Data from Caldolor(R) Study in Burn Patients to be Presented at 42nd Annual Meeting of The American Burn Association
10. Nine Healthcare Companies Named Finalists for Innovations in HealthcareSM ABBY Awards, to be Presented April 28th
11. Zimmer Receives Recognition for Health Economics Data Presented at 77th Annual American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Meeting
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/10/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Holiday shopping, decorating, parties, family gatherings, and ... that can put a great deal of stress on consumers this and every ... food and festive gatherings can lead to excessive behaviors, which has an impact ...
(Date:12/10/2016)... ... December 10, 2016 , ... The ... PATS recently joined forces with other healthcare organizations to promote diabetes education at ... in Harrisburg, featured a variety of speakers from around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. ...
(Date:12/10/2016)... ... , ... When faced with having to use a toilet away from home ... body, and contamination of children when they use public toilets. This inspired her to ... people face. , The patent-pending SANI-POCKET enables a person to use a public toilet ...
(Date:12/9/2016)... ... December 09, 2016 , ... Groth Family Insurance, a Washington-based ... is initiating a charity drive to support the family of Cindy Hendrickson, a ... , On October 29th of this year, Cindy Hendrickson swerved to avoid ...
(Date:12/9/2016)... , ... December 09, 2016 , ... ... folded, pharmaceutical inserts and outserts. As a means of expanding capabilities Flottman ... will enable Flottman to individually code professional inserts (PIs) and patient package inserts ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... global biosurgery market is expected to grow at a ... to 2021. The market is poised to reach USD ... 2016. The market is primarily driven by rising number ... spinal problems, increasing clearance of biosurgery products by regulatory ... In this report, the biosurgery market is ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... 2016 KEY FINDINGS The global ... 2017-2023. Various reasons for growth of the medical lifting ... of chronic diseases, high recovery cost of injuries and ... Medical lifting sling refers to an assistive device that ... slings connect to the lift and hold the patient. ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Mich. , Dec. 8, 2016  Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc. (NYSE: ... as a 2016 Top Workplaces National Standard. ... ... Specialty Pharmacy (PRNewsFoto/Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc.) ... based on an employee survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC, a research ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: