(52) Visual displays of side effect risks

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This image shows the relative likelihood and severity of multiple side effects in non-tabular ways, using color, size, shape, etc to represent the attributes of the side effects so that consumers can quickly get the “gist” of what might happen to them if they took a medication.

What’s special about this image?

This graphic shows severity using 2 cues (vertical position and color) and likelihood using 3 cues (horizontal position, size of circle, and number).

A weakness is that the horizontal position is not proportionate to actual differences in likelihood. For example, the horizontal spacing between a 1% and a 2% risk is larger than the difference between the 10% risk and the 30% risk.

With this image, people are better able to accurately report their risk of certain side effects than with other images of this type. However, they are less able to accurately report the severity of those risks. This type of X-Y display also performed less well than the alternate approach of using tables with embedded icons.
  • My goal
  • Classifying risks
  • Raise or lower concern
  • Details or gist?
  • Gist understanding
  • Data I have
  • Risk estimate
  • Health conditions
  • Side effects
  • Treatment choice
  • Medication
  • Graphic type
  • Color gradient
  • Area graph