Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Doctors Test Effort That Helps People Understand Health Risk Information

Date:
February 24, 2007
Source:
Dartmouth College
Summary:
Dartmouth/Veterans Affairs researchers have tested whether a primer, which the researchers also wrote, helped people better understand information about health risks and interventions meant to reduce those risks.

H. Gilbert Welch, Lisa Swartz, Steven Woloshin. (Credit: Photo by Joseph Mehling)
Credit: Photo by Joseph Mehling

In a study published in the Feb. 20 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers with Dartmouth Medical School and the Veterans Affairs Outcomes Group at the White River Junction (Vt.) VA Medical Center have tested whether a primer, which the researchers also wrote, helped people better understand information about health risks and interventions meant to reduce those risks.

Related Articles


"We wrote the primer because, while people are bombarded with messages about health risks and treatment benefits, little is done to prepare them to understand these messages," says Steven Woloshin, one of the authors on the paper and an associate professor of community and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School.

Woloshin and his co-authors Lisa Schwartz and H. Gilbert Welch, all of whom are affiliated with Dartmouth's Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences and the Veterans Affairs Outcomes Group at the White River Junction (Vermont) VA Medical Center, tested more than 500 people with varying levels of education. They found that their primer improved medical interpretation skills, regardless of educational background.

"This is one of the first studies we know of to go beyond simply exploring the fact that there are problems with how well people understand numbers and quantitative messages," says Schwartz. "This study considers one concrete effort to teach people how to understand risk."

The authors tested two parallel, randomized groups of people, one involving about 200 patients with low socioeconomic status (50 percent had a high school degree or less formal education) and the other with about 300 patients with high socioeconomic status (80 percent had at least a college degree). In both groups, participants were given either the primer "Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Risks," which was developed specifically to teach people the skills needed to understand risk, or a general health booklet developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.

After reading the materials, participants were asked to answer questions testing their ability to interpret medical data. In the low socioeconomic group, 44 percent of those using the primer passed the test, compared to 26 percent of those receiving the general health booklet. The corresponding numbers in the high socioeconomic study were 74 percent versus 56 percent. The researchers point out that, while good data interpretation skills are needed to make good decisions, they did not directly test the effect of the primer on actual decision making.

"We don't know of any other generic educational interventions like this," says Woloshin. "It's simple, low tech, inexpensive, and we're happy to learn that it's also effective."

This study was supported by funds from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Cancer Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dartmouth College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Dartmouth College. "Doctors Test Effort That Helps People Understand Health Risk Information." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070220002235.htm>.
Dartmouth College. (2007, February 24). Doctors Test Effort That Helps People Understand Health Risk Information. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070220002235.htm
Dartmouth College. "Doctors Test Effort That Helps People Understand Health Risk Information." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070220002235.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Just A Half-Hour Of Lost Sleep Could Lead To Weight Gain

Just A Half-Hour Of Lost Sleep Could Lead To Weight Gain

Newsy (Mar. 6, 2015) A new study found losing just half an hour of sleep could make you gain weight. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Suicide Rates Up For Young Women In U.S.

Suicide Rates Up For Young Women In U.S.

Newsy (Mar. 6, 2015) According to a report from the CDC, suicide rates among young women increased from 1994 to 2012 while rates among young men have decreased. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Bupa is hoping to expand in India&apos;s fast-growing health insurance market, once a rule change on foreign investment is implemented. The British private healthcare group&apos;s CEO tells Grace Pascoe why it&apos;s so keen on the new opportunity. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Releases Last Ebola Patient, But Threat Remains

Liberia Releases Last Ebola Patient, But Threat Remains

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) Liberia&apos;s last Ebola patient has been released, and the country hasn&apos;t recorded a new case in a week. However, fears of another outbreak still exist. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins