(76) The benefits of risk reduction

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This image presents a risk estimate to a patient, and more importantly, it also shows them how much that risk could be reduced. It uses an icon array display, which research has shown is a particularly effective type of graphic at showing risk but which needed new thinking about how to show risk reduction.

What’s special about this image?

This design is a variant of the icon array displays that University of Michigan researchers (especially Brian Zikmund-Fisher, PhD, and Angela Fagerlin, PhD) have been testing for many years.

Note the use of distinct visual cues to correspond to each of the 3 statistics provided: icon color corresponds to new risk, the green outline corresponds to current risk, and the only background shading corresponds uniquely to the risk reduction.

Users interested in this type of graphic can use iconarray.com, our free, online, icon array generator to create tailored graphics of this type.

Compared to other graphics, this image appeared best at communicating the size of the risk reduction or risk change. This may be in part due to the use of the clear 3-part legend that included the risk numbers. If communicating incremental risk reduction (risk changes) is your primary risk communication goal, then this graphic may be an appropriate choice. If, instead, comprehension of the current risk number is your primary goal, then this graphic may be a more appropriate choice.
  • My goal
  • Raise or lower concern
  • Differences in likelihood
  • Details or gist?
  • Verbatim recall
  • Gist understanding
  • Data I have
  • Test result
  • Risk estimate
  • Benefit estimate
  • Health conditions
  • Weight loss
  • Diabetes
  • Graphic type
  • Icon array