(48) Putting outbreaks of disease into context

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This image communicates the case counts of an outbreak of disease (here, measles) in a way suitable for a news story. The challenge is to present information about the relevant population in a way that draws attention to the risk but also reminds people of its (current) rarity.

What’s special about this image?

This info-graphic focuses attention on the difference in case rates between Brooklyn and the US as a whole.

Its power comes in the subtle cues to remind people of how big the differences in population are: (a) use of labels such as “just two Brooklyn, NY neighborhoods” and “200 total cases” and (b) the mirrored positioning of the denominator numbers. Ideally, a reader sees 58 and 200 and gets a sense of their ratio, then sees 250,000 and 317,000,000 and realizes that the latter is a much larger ratio.

This image increased how significant the difference seemed to people as well as how big the differences felt to them, as compared to the other images it was tested against. We give this image a modest recommendation.
  • My goal
  • Awareness of risk
  • Differences in likelihood
  • Raise or lower concern
  • Details or gist?
  • Gist understanding
  • Data I have
  • Case counts
  • Population risks
  • Health conditions
  • Measles
  • Graphic type
  • Tables