(90) Tables of side effect risks with icons

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This summary table (suitable for use in decision aids or medication packaging) uses both severity icons and likelihood icons to highlight variations in likelihood and severity within a set of side effects. It uses icons that our early rounds of testing found to be most helpful. This table was subsequently tested against other visual approaches to communicating side effect risks.

What’s special about this image?

This table uses icons with fairly simple designs to focus viewers’ attention to particular dimensions. In particular, the severity icons use color, vertical height, horizontal width, area, and label (5 cues!) simultaneously to show increased severity. The bubble icons in Table B use circle area and numbers in a visually interesting way.

The icons make it easy to quickly scan the tables and identify particularly common or particularly severe risks worthy of additional consideration.

In comparative tests between tabular and non-tabular formats, this type of table particularly helped viewers understand how different side effect risks vary in their severity. However, it did not perform as well as tables with a different icon for risk likelihood in helping people recognize the most likely side effect.
  • My goal
  • Differences in likelihood
  • Classifying risks
  • Details or gist?
  • Gist understanding
  • Verbatim recall
  • Data I have
  • Risk estimate
  • Health conditions
  • Side effects
  • Treatment choice
  • Graphic type
  • Icons
  • Tables