Drug Safety Matters

#13 How to talk about risks – Alexandra Freeman

February 24, 2022 Uppsala Monitoring Centre
Drug Safety Matters
#13 How to talk about risks – Alexandra Freeman
Show Notes

People’s perception of risk can vary greatly from person to person, making it challenging for healthcare professionals to communicate benefits and harms of medicines in a balanced fashion. Alexandra Freeman from the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication discusses how to give patients the information they need to decide what's best for them.

Tune in to find out:

  • Why people perceive risks so differently
  • Why medical communicators should strive to inform rather than persuade
  • How to communicate in a trustworthy fashion


Want to know more?

  • There is no right way to communicate evidence to patients, but there are a few things you can do to avoid getting it wrong.
  • Conventional communication techniques are good for persuading people – but when the aim is to inform, the principles of evidence communication should be applied instead.
  • Graphics can help people translate abstract numbers into contextualised risks they can relate to, like these visuals that illustrate the risk of blood clots with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
  • These evidence-based guidelines can help professional communicators illustrate the personalised risk of dying from COVID-19.
  • The Winton Centre offers plenty of resources on risk and evidence communication, including free e-learning courses for healthcare professionals, the Risky Talk podcast with statistician David Spiegelhalter, and the RealRisk tool to help healthcare professionals and communicators extract the right statistics from academic papers.

For more on communicating benefits and harms in pharmacovigilance, revisit this Drug Safety Matters episode on vaccine safety communication.

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