Keynote: Making Numbers Meaningful for Patients and Clients

Monday, October 30 • 10:40am – 11:30am EST

The way we describe risks and benefits – percentages, frequencies, graphics, or words – makes a big difference to our audience. We might want to reassure patients, but present the numbers in a way that raises concerns. We might want them to compare two probabilities, while inadvertently selecting number types that are cognitively challenging to compare. In this talk, we’ll review some of the evidence about how different formats for numbers influence risk perception and comprehension, with the goal of making our communications more effective.

Learning objectives:

  • Reformat probability numbers in several formats (including percentages, 1 in X frequencies, rates, and odds)
  • Articulate several communication goals that can be affected by the format of probability numbers
  • Describe the different impacts of presenting a probability as “1 in 100” or as “1%”