Communicating cardiovascular risk: Systematic review of qualitative evidence

Theo Lorenc, Gillian Stokes, Helen Fulbright, Katy Sutcliffe, Amanda Sowden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Cardiovascular risk prediction models are widely used to help individuals understand risk and make decisions.

METHODS: Systematic review of qualitative evidence. We searched MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO and CINAHL. We included English-language qualitative studies on the communication of cardiovascular risk. We assessed study quality using Hawker et al.'s tool and synthesised data thematically.

RESULTS: Thirty-seven studies were included. Many patients think that risk scores are of limited practical value. Other sources of information feed into informal estimates of risk, which may lead patients to reject the results of clinical risk assessment when the two conflict. Clinicians identify a number of barriers to risk communication, including patients' limited understanding of risk and excessive anxiety. They use a range of strategies for adapting risk communication. Both clinicians and individuals express specific preferences for risk communication formats.

DISCUSSION: Ways of communicating risk that provide some comparison or reference point seem more promising. The broader context of communication around risk may be more important than the risk scoring instrument. Risk communication interventions, in practice, may be more about appeals to emotion than a rationalistic model of decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108231
Number of pages8
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Early online date29 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Cite this