FDA publishes “Communicating Risks & Benefits: An Evidence-Based User’s Guide”

ucm268065.jpgThe FDA’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee, of which I’m a member, today published a book written by committee members, “Communicating Risks and Benefits: An Evidence-Based User’s Guide.”

The book is available online as a pdf file.

My chapter was on the tendency for journalists, when reporting on health care interventions, to exaggerate benefits and minimize or ignore potential harms.

Committee chair Baruch Fischhoff, PhD, Carnegie Mellon University, said:

“A goal was to make communication science accessible. Another was to facilitate evidence-based approaches.”

Each chapter is 3,000 words, each addressing these points:

What does the science say?
What does the science mean? (best guesses for communication)
How can you tell how well you’ve done? (how good are your best guesses?)
Evaluation you can do with no budget, with a little budget, or with a bigger budget.

“We wanted to make people feel guilty if they didn’t do any evaluation,” Fischhoff said.


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Roger M. Strube, MD

August 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm

This is truly a great resource and it appears to hit the nail on the mark. Catering to their audience is my only guess why journalists only focus on benefits. It seems that people need a sense of self-gratification for information to be relevant.
There might be some truth to that. But to warn people of the downside of medical issues, is important too.
I just published a new book about the cause of our current health care crisis and propose a cure too. I suggest the implementation of problem oriented electronic medical records would solve 90 percent of our health care problem and shift the paradigm of fee-for-services, which is the current model to an approach that actually address and solves medical problem patients have. With my plan communication and deliver wof medical services would change a great deal.