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Better Doctors, Better Patients, Better DecisionsEnvisioning Health Care 2020$
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Gerd Gigerenzer and J.A. Muir Gray

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016032

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016032.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 28 May 2022

Statistical Illiteracy in Doctors

Statistical Illiteracy in Doctors

(p.137) 9 Statistical Illiteracy in Doctors
Better Doctors, Better Patients, Better Decisions

Odette Wegwarth

Gerd Gigerenzer

The MIT Press

In most psychological, legal, and medical research, patients are assumed to have difficulties with health statistics but clinicians not. Doctors may be said to pay insufficient attention to their patients’ feelings, not listen carefully to their complaints, take only an average of five minutes time for consultations, or withhold information; yet rarely is it considered that they might also be statistically illiterate. However, studies indicate that most doctors have problems in understanding health statistics, including those from their own area of specialty. Such statistical illiteracy makes informed shared decision making impossible. The reasons for these disconcerting findings appear to be less rooted in doctors’ cognitive limitations but rather in medical schools that ignore the importance of teaching risk communication. Doctors could be taught, with little effort, the simple techniques of risk communication, which would eliminate most of their statistical confusion.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, health screening, informed decision making, risk communication, statistical literacy, illusion of certainty

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