(56) Risk calculator: More than a number

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Download PDF of design specifications, testing methods, and results.

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 graphic uses a triangle design to translate a simple number line into a 2-dimensional shape, thereby providing height and area cues in addition to horizontal position.

It also features a strong callout flag that presents the patient’s risk numerically right in the middle of the display and provides an instruction (“see doctor”) whenever the risk level is in the “moderate” or “high” categories.

This image resulted in significantly higher accuracy in our testing (compared to other designs) but was not as good at helping people classify risks. Given that the primary goal of many risk calculators is to ensure accurate risk classification, our recommendation would NOT be to use this design as is but instead to use a graphic like this image does but to add a stronger visual flag denoting the patient’s risk in the middle of the graphic.
  • My goal
  • Raise or lower concern
  • Classifying risks
  • Details or gist?
  • Verbatim recall
  • Gist understanding
  • Data I have
  • Risk estimate
  • Health conditions
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Graphic type
  • Color gradient
  • Area graph
  • Callout
  • Number Line Graph