(55) Risk calculator: More than a number

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This image presents a risk estimate to a patient. Its primary goal is to help patients categorize their risk (i.e., to make sure that patients know when they are at “high” risk or not).

What’s special about this image?

This intriguing “steps” design translates horizontal position into meaningful categories using color, height, and numerical labels.

Note the clear instruction that the patient should “see your doctor” for all values above 10.

A weakness of this design is that the patient’s risk level is primarily communicated through the bottom section (pie chart and number) and only weakly placed in the context of the step graphic on top.

In our testing, this image generated consistently greater concern, risk perceptions, and intentions to see a doctor than alternate images did. Our recommendation therefore is to use graphics based on this step design but to consider adding a stronger visual flag denoting the patient’s risk in the middle of the graphic (as this image does). This visual cue and strong presentation of the risk number should improve verbatim recall while complementing the framing of risk provided by the step design shown here.
  • My goal
  • Classifying risks
  • Raise or lower concern
  • Details or gist?
  • Verbatim recall
  • Gist understanding
  • Data I have
  • Risk estimate
  • Health conditions
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Graphic type
  • Number Line Graph
  • Area graph
  • Color gradient
  • Pie chart