9º World Congress on Health Information and Libraries

Salvador, Bahia - Brazil, September, 20 to 23 - 2005


4th Regional Coordination Meeting of the VHL

September, 19 to 20 - 2005

P86 - An evaluation of how we communicate risk to patients

BMJPG have attempted to address issues around the difficulties of explaining risk in a meaningful way to patients. BestTreatments is a website that aims to help patients understand their condition and treatments. A module was developed within the BestTreatments website in order to help patients understand risk. It explains the basics of risk, how to use it to choose treatments and the difference between Relative Risk Reduction and Absolute Risk.  The module also shows patients how to make sense of risk calculations and how to describe risk in words.
To demonstrate how people interpret and understand the risks of treatments, a Randomized Controlled Trial was undertaken by the BMJPG, Swansea Clinical School and Diabetes UK. The BestTreatments website was used as the basis for the content of the information sources and a range of risk interpretations were used. There was both quantitative and qualitative analysis in the RCT. The results of the qualitative analysis showed a number of criticisms of some o f the basic content of BestTreatments. The risk information itself had mixed reactions but most participants liked or found the graphical representations helpful. It was also clear from feedback that there is strong support for clear and effective information provision such as was made available in the study.
The appropriate understanding and use of medical evidence is directly contingent upon a correct interpretation of statistical data on risk. The BMJPG is continually distilling and publishing complicated information on evidence-based medical practice for both doctors and patients.  Given that research evidence is challenging, if not impossible, for many patients to correctly interpret, we have learnt that it is of great benefit to develop the way we represent risk information so that it is clearly and effectively communicated.