New Resource for Communicating Health Data

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently partnered with the University of Michigan Center for Health Communications Research to produce a new website called Visualizing Health.  Through the project led by Tim Leong, researchers investigated different ways of visually communicating data that is often difficult for a patient to understand.  A gallery of images was created for health professionals and researchers to use, modify and build on to communicate health and health care messages.

This resource has the potential to overcome health literacy challenges so many people face when they go to the doctor.  For example, a physician may tell a patient to start exercising, eat healthier or quit smoking . Using this new tool, the physician can show the patient how their risk for developing a chronic disease may be impacted by making a certain behavior change.  Graphics included can help a patient understand what their blood pressure really means and how behavior changes can impact their health outcomes.

The images created for the tool were inspired by dozens of scenarios where an individual might be faced with health data.  Here are a few examples:

  • Tables of side effect risks
  • Translating test results into risk
  • Visualizing health scores
  • Racial disparities in rates of disease
  • Putting outbreaks of disease into context
  • Visual displays of side effect risks
  • Personally tailored data about side effect risks
  • Risk calculator: More than a number
  • Showing how side effects change over time
  • The benefits of risk reduction
  • Years of life saved by taking a drug
  • Icons to show severity of side effects

Link to Visualizing Health.

Link to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation blog article “A New Way of Looking at Health.”

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