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Using Icon Arrays to Communicate Medical Risks: Overcoming Low Numeracy

Using Icon Arrays to Communicate Medical Risks: Overcoming Low Numeracy Objective: Icon arrays have been suggested as a potentially promising format for communicating risks to patients—especially those with low numeracy skills—but experimental studies are lacking. This study investigates whether icon arrays increase accuracy of understanding medical risks, and whether they affect perceived seriousness of risks and helpfulness of treatments. Design: Two experiments were conducted on samples of older adults (n = 59, 62 to 77 years of age) and university students (n = 112, 26 to 35 years of age). Main Outcome Measures: Accuracy of understanding risk reduction; perceived seriousness of risks; perceived helpfulness of treatments. Results: Icon arrays increased accuracy of both low- and high-numeracy people, even when transparent numerical representations were used. Risks presented via icon arrays were perceived as less serious than those presented numerically. With larger icon arrays (1,000 instead of 100 icons) risks were perceived more serious, and risk reduction larger. Conclusions: Icon arrays are a promising way of communicating medical risks to a wide range of patient groups, including older adults with lower numeracy skills. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Health Psychology American Psychological Association

Using Icon Arrays to Communicate Medical Risks: Overcoming Low Numeracy

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Publisher
American Psychological Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 American Psychological Association
ISSN
0278-6133
eISSN
1930-7810
DOI
10.1037/a0014474
pmid
19290713
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Objective: Icon arrays have been suggested as a potentially promising format for communicating risks to patients—especially those with low numeracy skills—but experimental studies are lacking. This study investigates whether icon arrays increase accuracy of understanding medical risks, and whether they affect perceived seriousness of risks and helpfulness of treatments. Design: Two experiments were conducted on samples of older adults (n = 59, 62 to 77 years of age) and university students (n = 112, 26 to 35 years of age). Main Outcome Measures: Accuracy of understanding risk reduction; perceived seriousness of risks; perceived helpfulness of treatments. Results: Icon arrays increased accuracy of both low- and high-numeracy people, even when transparent numerical representations were used. Risks presented via icon arrays were perceived as less serious than those presented numerically. With larger icon arrays (1,000 instead of 100 icons) risks were perceived more serious, and risk reduction larger. Conclusions: Icon arrays are a promising way of communicating medical risks to a wide range of patient groups, including older adults with lower numeracy skills.

Journal

Health PsychologyAmerican Psychological Association

Published: Mar 1, 2009

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