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Med Decis Making. 2010 Nov-Dec;30(6):661-71. doi: 10.1177/0272989X10364244. Epub 2010 Apr 7.

A demonstration of ''less can be more'' in risk graphics.

Author information

  • 1VA Health Services Research & Development Center for Clinical Management Research, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. bzikmund@umich.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Online tools such as Adjuvant! provide tailored estimates of the possible outcomes of adjuvant therapy options available to breast cancer patients. The graphical format typically displays 4 outcomes simultaneously: survival, mortality due to cancer, other-cause mortality, and incremental survival due to adjuvant treatment.

OBJECTIVE:

To test whether simpler formats that present only baseline and incremental survival would improve comprehension of the relevant risk statistics and/or affect treatment intentions.

DESIGN:

. Randomized experimental manipulation of risk graphics shown included in Internet-administered survey vignettes about adjuvant therapy decisions for breast cancer patients with ER + tumors.

PARTICIPANTS:

Demographically diverse, stratified random samples of women ages 40 to 74 y recruited from an Internet research panel.

INTERVENTION:

Participants were randomized to view either pictographs (icon arrays) that displayed all 4 possible outcomes or pictographs that showed only survival outcomes.

MEASUREMENTS:

Comprehension of key statistics, task completion times, graph evaluation ratings, and perceived interest in adjuvant chemotherapy.

RESULTS:

In the primary study (N = 832), participants who viewed survival-only pictographs had better accuracy when reporting the total chance of survival with both chemotherapy and hormonal therapy (63% v. 50%, P < 0.001), higher graph evaluation ratings (x = 7.98 v. 7.67, P = 0.04), and less interest in adding chemotherapy to hormonal therapy (43% v. 50%, P = 0.04; adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.68, P = 0.008). A replication study (N = 714) confirmed that participants who viewed survival-only graphs had higher graph evaluation ratings (x = 8.06 v. 7.72, P = 0.04) and reduced interest in chemotherapy (OR=0.67,P=0.03).

LIMITATIONS:

Studies used general public samples; actual patients may process risk information differently.

CONCLUSIONS:

Taking a ''less is more'' approach by omitting redundant mortality outcome statistics can be an effective method of risk communication and may be preferable when using visual formats such as pictographs.

PMID:
20375419
PMCID:
PMC3576697
DOI:
10.1177/0272989X10364244
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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