Simple tools for understanding risks: from innumeracy to insight

BMJ. 2003 Sep 27;327(7417):741-4. doi: 10.1136/bmj.327.7417.741.


Bad presentation of medical statistics such as the risks associated with a particular intervention can lead to patients making poor decisions on treatment. Particularly confusing are single event probabilities, conditional probabilities (such as sensitivity and specificity), and relative risks. How can doctors improve the presentation of statistical information so that patients can make well informed decisions?

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Display
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Participation
  • Probability Theory
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity