Effective risk communication is about more than behaviour change: let’s talk about personal risk appraisals
By Victoria Woof and David French, Manchester Centre for Health Psychology, University of Manchester, UK
Traditionally in medicine and health psychology, healthcare professionals have provided patients with their personalised disease risks with the aim of preventing disease. Where risk communication facilitates changes to health behaviour, it can potentially reduce the development of disease and find diseases at treatable stages. For instance communicating the risk of cardiovascular disease to promote the uptake of physical exercise and improved diet to reduce risk. However, there are other possible aims and outcomes to consider when delivering information about disease risk. Further, the goals of healthcare professionals and patients or members of the public may not always be aligned. Several related goals of risk communication have been identified, including facilitating informed choices and producing appropriate affective responses, as well as motivating behaviour change.