Published on September 25, 2020 – Graphical formats presenting health risk information can be beneficial, but are understudied in older populations. In a recent published study with ACHC members Julia van Weert and Monique Alblas, younger (< 65) and older (> 65) adults’ preference for and understanding of graph formats presenting risk information was investigated.
Although the use of graphical formats to present health risk information seems particularly important for older adults, graphical risk presentation formats have hardly been evaluated in older populations. Moreover, next to age, health literacy, numeracy and graph literacy may contribute to understanding of risk information presented in a graph. Therefore, the study not only aimed to examine younger and older adults’ preference for and understanding of graph formats presenting risk information, but also the contribution of age, health literacy, numeracy and graph literacy in understanding information. To assess preferences, participants (n = 219 < 65 and n = 227 > 65) were exposed to a storyboard presenting six types of graphs. Understanding (verbatim and gist knowledge) was assessed in an experiment using a 6 (graphs: clock, bar, sparkplug, table, pie vs pictograph) by 2 (age: younger versus older) between-subjects design. The results showed that most participants preferred the format of clock, pie or bar chart. However, although often preferred, pie was not well understood by both younger and older people, and clock not by older people. Bar was often preferred and fairly well understood in both groups. Table was not often preferred, but yielded high knowledge scores, particularly in the older group. Lower age, higher numeracy and higher graph literacy contributed to higher verbatim knowledge scores. Higher health literacy and graph literacy were associated with higher gist knowledge. The authors conclude that although table was not the preferred format, this type of graph is best understood by older adults. Graph literacy skills are essential for both verbatim and gist understanding, and are important to take into account when developing risk information. The implications of the findings in supporting treatment decision making are further discussed in the paper.
Van Weert, J.C.M., Alblas, M., Van Dijk, L, & Jansen, J. Preference for and understanding of graphs presenting health risk information. The role of age, health literacy, numeracy and graph literacy. Patient Education and Counseling. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2020.06.031
Link to article: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0738399120303499