McDowell, M. et al.A simple tool for communicating the benefits and harms of health interventions: A guide for creating a fact box

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Michelle McDowell, Felix Rebitschek, Gerd Gigerenzer & Odette Wegwarth

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Medical Decision Making Policy & Practice, Vol. 1, No. 1

One of the major hurdles to promoting informed decision making in health is the continued use of poor risk presentation formats. This article offers a guide to develop a Fact Box, a simple decision tool to present data about the benefits and harms of treatments that has been demonstrated to improve understanding of health risks, an important part of risk literacy. The article offers guidance about how to determine the evidence basis for a health topic, select outcomes to report, extract and present numbers or outcomes, and design the layout. The guide also addresses potential challenges for summarizing evidence and provides alternatives for addressing issues related to missing, insufficient, imprecise, or conflicting evidence and for dealing with issues related to statistical and clinical significance. The guide concludes with details on how to document the development of the Fact Box for the purpose of transparency and reproducibility. Fact Boxes are an efficient tool to promote risk literacy and should be available in every physician’s office.

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