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Evaluating a combined (frequency and percentage) risk expression to communicate information on medicine side effects to patients

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Author(s)

  • Peter Knapp
  • Peter Gardner
  • Brian McMillan
  • David K. Raynor
  • Elizabeth Wool

Department/unit(s)

Publication details

JournalThe International journal of pharmacy practice
DatePublished - Aug 2013
Issue number4
Volume21
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)226-232
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Objectives The study evaluated the interpretation of, and preferences for, numerical information on side-effect incidence when presented in three different formats. Methods It used a controlled design, with participants allocated at random to receive one of the three formats. Participants were recruited via a pop-up window on the CancerHelp UK website. The sample comprised 129 website users, of whom 96% were women and 86% had cancer, who received frequency information on four side effects of tamoxifen, using one of three risk expressions (percentages, e.g. ‘affects 25% of people’; frequencies, e.g. ‘affects 1 in 4 people’; combined, e.g. ‘affects 1 in 4 people (25%)’). They then interpreted information on tamoxifen and its effect on health, and estimates of side-effect frequency, and then stated a preference from the three risk expression formats. Key findings The results showed that the three formats did not influence participants’ ratings of the information or their side-effect estimates. However, more than half (53%) the participants preferred the combined (frequency and percentage) format. In conclusion, a combined risk expression format performed no worse than percentages or frequencies alone and was preferred by a majority. Conclusions The three risk expression formats did not differ in their effect on participants’ interpretations. However, the preferred format was the combined (frequency and percentage) risk expression.

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