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The increase in patient involvement in decision making regarding their own health in recent years have led to relevant changes in doctor-patient communication Doctors need to start accepting the increased involvement of patients and engage in shared decision making instead of adopting the autonomous role Godolphin 2003 Risk communication is one way of providing more information to enable patients to make confident risk-relevant decisions Edwards 2003 There are some arguments that risk communication is futile due to the lack of statistical understanding in lay people However there is evidence that this statistical innumeracy problem should not only be attributed to the mental deficiency of the recipient but is largely due to poor representation of the information Gigerenzer 2002 There are various ways of communicating risk and most are confusing Risk communicators need to represent risk information in ways that would be unambiguous and easily interpretable by lay people Figures and estimates should always be used instead of subjective descriptive terms such as low risk Doctors need to present information in a neutral and objective way as patients tend to look for clues no matter how subtle that could tell them what to do Logically equivalent information could be expressed in different ways Wilson Purdon Wallston 1988 and these have been shown to affect interpretation and decision making Kahneman Tversky 1979 For example positive framing 97 chance of survival is found to be more effective in persuading people to take a risky option than a negative framing 3 chance of fatality K 1998 Another example is it is more effective when considering the potential losses from not taking a test say in mammography loss of good health longevity and family relationships than the potential gains such as maintenance of good health Edwards Elwyn Mulley 2002 To avoid unintentional manipulation doctors should provide both positive and negative outcomes One of the numerical representations that can cause confusion is in the form of
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