Interactive graphics for expressing health risks: development and qualitative evaluation.

Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
Journal of Health Communication (Impact Factor: 1.61). 07/2009; 14(5):461-75. DOI: 10.1080/10810730903032960
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Recent findings suggest that interactive game-like graphics might be useful in communicating probabilities. We developed a prototype for a risk communication module, focusing on eliciting users' preferences for different interactive graphics and assessing usability and user interpretations. Feedback from five focus groups was used to design the graphics. The final version displayed a matrix of square buttons; clicking on any button allowed the user to see whether the stick figure underneath was affected by the health outcome. When participants used this interaction to learn about a risk, they expressed more emotional responses, both positive and negative, than when viewing any static graphic or numerical description of a risk. Their responses included relief about small risks and concern about large risks. The groups also commented on static graphics: arranging the figures affected by disease randomly throughout a group of figures made it more difficult to judge the proportion affected but often was described as more realistic. Interactive graphics appear to have potential for expressing risk magnitude as well as the feeling of risk. This affective impact could be useful in increasing perceived threat of high risks, calming fears about low risks, or comparing risks. Quantitative studies are planned to assess the effect on perceived risks and estimated risk magnitudes.

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