Improving doctor-patient understanding of probability in communicating cancer-screening test findings

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Several researchers have questioned the merits of early mammography and prostate-specific-antigen (PSA) screening policies, arguing that these programs have not been proven useful in lowering mortality rates. This controversy highlights the necessity and importance of effectively communicating probability information to patients. Probability information, however, has been plaguing the health care profession—as numerous investigators have shown that it is often difficulty to understand and transmit. These difficulties can be overcome by changing the presentation format from a probabilistic format to a frequency format, thereby enhancing doctors' and patients' ability to solve and understand statistical information. Although I highlight this problematic issue with a discussion of mammography and prostate-specific-antigen screening, the suggested solution is not confined to a single medical procedure, but can be extended to any other medical domains where doctors are faced with the difficult task of providing complex probability data to patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-335
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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