Communicating Graphically: Comparing graphical formats and their implications on knowledge and risk perceptions

In one study we randomized participants to receive one of 6 formats that communicated the risks and benefits of treatment: 1) table, 2) pictograph, 3) pie graph, 4) bar graph, 5) modified pie graph (that looked like a clock), and 6) sparkplug. We compared participants' knowledge and risk perceptions across the 6 versions. We found that compared to all graphs, respondents who received the pictographs had better gist and verbatim knowledge. We will also describe how each graph was related to participants risk perceptions.

About the Speaker

Angela Fagerlin, PhD

Angela Fagerlin, PhD, is Co-Director of the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine and Professor of Medicine at the University of Michigan. Dr. Fagerlin is also a Research Scientist at the VA Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research. Her primary research focuses are testing methods for communicating the risks and benefits of treatment to patients (e.g., in decision aids) and testing how patient decision aids can affect patient physician communication. Her other research includes studying cognitive biases involved in medical decision making and the use of living wills at the end of life.