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Pictographs/Icon Arrays

Pictographs and icon arrays are two names for a type of risk communication graphic that CBSSM investigators have developed and extensively tested. Because pictographs are made up of a matrix of unique elements representing individual units (people) within the at-risk population, they accurately communicate exact percentages while simultaneously conveying “gist” impressions derived from the relative proportion of colored vs. uncolored area in the graph. Click here to learn more and create your own downloadable pictograph images.

 

Pictographs combine some of the best elements of alternate communication formats such as tables or bar charts. A pictograph is made up of unique icons representing individual units (people) within the at-risk population. As a result, it accurately communicates exact percentages the way a table does. However, pictographs also convey “gist” impressions derived from the relative proportion of colored vs. uncolored area in the graph. As such, they are similar in effectiveness to bar graphs and other area or height-based graphics. Furthermore, pictographs are like pie charts in that they represent the entire risk denominator visually, unlike bar charts which focus attention primarily on the risk numerator.

CBSSM researchers have shown that using pictographs in risk communication contexts can be used to effectively communicate the incremental benefit of risk reducing treatments (Zikmund-Fisher, 2008) and the risk of developing side effects from medications, especially when multiple colors are used to distinguish the incremental risk caused by treatment (Zikmund-Fisher, 2008). Pictographs can also limit the biases induced by the presence of powerful anecdotal narratives of former patients (Fagerlin, 2005) and incremental risk formats (Zikmund-Fisher, 2008). In a study that directly compared graphical formats, pictographs were also the only graphical format that supported acquisition of both verbatim and all-important “gist” knowledge (Hawley, 2008). Another study (2010) showed that simpler pictographs (ones that showed a single risk) appeared to be more effective than more visually complex pictographs that used multiple colors to show different risks simultaneously. In a similar vein, two studies (2011, 2012) have found advantages of using static pictographs instead of more complex animated or interactive versions (perhaps because these elements distract attention from the part-whole relationship that represents the risk being communicated).

CBSSM researchers are not alone in our use of pictographs. Other researchers have shown that image matricies of this type are easier to interpret quickly and accurately than other formats (Feldman-Stewart, 2007), are sometimes preferred by patients (Schapira, 2006), and may reduce side effect aversion in treatment decision-making (Waters, 2007). More recent work has shown that icon arrays overcome some of the barriers to comprehension caused by low numeracy (e.g., Galesic & Garcia-Retamero, 2009 & 2010; Garcia-Retamero & Galesic, 2009). In fact, it appears that high numeracy and low numeracy people use pictographs in different ways (Hess, et al, 2011).

To encourage broader use of pictographs in risk communication and medical decision-making in general, CBSSM has collaborated with the UM Risk Center to develop Iconarray.com, a web-based application that enables people to develop and download their own tailored icon array graphics. A companion site, clinician.iconarray.com, enables clinicians (or anyone else) to make side-by-side icon array displays for use in consultations in less than 1 minute.

 

Susan Goold presented a talk entitled, "Transforming public health: Deliberation, simulation, prioritization" at TEDxUofM, a university-wide initiative to galvanize the community for an event like no other: filled with inspiration, discovery and excitement. TEDxUofM takes place on Thursday, March 29, at the Power Center, 10 am - 5 pm.  Click here for more information.

Borrowing the template of the world-renowned TED conference, TEDxUofM aims to bring a TED-like experience to the University of Michigan. The vision is to showcase the most fascinating thinkers and doers, the "leaders and best" in Michigan terms, for a stimulating day of presentations, discussions, entertainment and art that will spark new ideas and opportunities across all disciplines.

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. At TED, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Benoit Mandelbrot, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Submit Your Paper for Consideration in the ASBH Student Paper Competition

If you are a student who would like to be considered for the Student Paper Award, please send your paper to the ASBH office in an electronic format (Word or PDF) to candersen@asbh.org, with “ASBH Student Paper Competition” in the subject line.  All papers need to be received at the ASBH office by July 15, 2013 to be considered.    The Awards Committee will review and rank all submissions.  The top three papers will be placed in a special session at the Annual Meeting, and one winner will be chosen at the meeting by the Awards Committee. The award will be presented during the Members’ meeting.

All papers will be assessed anonymously.  Do not include identifying information in your paper submissions, such as title pages with your name. Previous winners are not eligible for consideration. Eligible papers should be no more than 3500 words in length. A student is defined as one who is actively pursuing an advanced degree and has not received a doctoral-level degree (e.g., MD, PhD, JD or equivalent degree). Authors who are not students according to the definition above are not eligible for the Student Paper Award. Coauthored papers are eligible only if all authors are students.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the ASBH office at: info@asbh.org

Thank you,
 
American Society for Bioethics + Humanities (ASBH)
Phone: 847-375-4745

www.asbh.org

 

Funded by the National Science Foundation

Funding years: 2010-2013

Increasingly people are communicating with one another through new media such as text messages exchanged via mobile devices. At the same time, survey response rates continue to drop. These phenomena are related to the extent that respondents only use mobile devices (21% of US households no longer have a landline phone) and frequently rely on modes other than voice, most notably text (which is certainly the norm among some subgroups in the US and increasingly among entire populations in other countries). Yet we know little about the impact of multimodal mobile devices on survey participation, completion, data quality and respondent satisfaction.

The proposed research will explore these issues in two experiments that will collect survey data on iPhones in four modes defined by whether the interviewing agent is a live human or a computer, and whether the medium of communication is voice or text. The resulting modes are telephone interviews, instant message (IM) interviews, speech integrated voice response (IVR), and automated IM. This way of defining modes enables us to isolate the effects of the agent and medium. The first experiment explores the effect of the four modes on participation, completion, data quality and satisfaction; the second explores the impact on the same four measures of allowing participants to choose the response mode.

More information: http://www.psc.isr.umich.edu/research/project-detail/34963

PI: Kathryn Moseley

Co-I: Mick Couper

Brian Zikmund-Fisher,  Angela Fagerlin, Nicole Exe, and Knoll Larkin have been involved in the Visualizing Health Project, which has recently launched an online style guide  for communicating health data. You can check it out at: www.vizhealth.org

The Visualizing Health project was a short and highly intense project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation designed to push the envelope both in considering visual designs for communicating health risk data and in developing iterative research approaches for testing them. The project involved a large team combining researchers and staff from both the University of Michigan's Center for Health Communications Research and the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine. The UM team then worked closely on a week by week basis with Thomas Goetz (former editor of Wired magazine) who envisioned the project, Tim Leong (graphic designer, author of Super Graphic), Andrea Ducas from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and teams of graphic designers that Tim recruited.

They created 16 distinct visual data display tasks related to health risks, had teams of graphic designers develop display concepts, and iteratively tested these displays using multiple online survey methodologies. The resulting designs and data were then assembled in a project website that included all the images, plus commentary and additional features such as a design "wizard" to help guide users to visual displays that best fit their personal needs.

Also, see the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of health blog.

Geoffrey Barnes, MD, MSc

Faculty

Geoff Barnes is a cardiologist and vascular medicine specialist at the University of Michigan Health System. He completed his undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis (2003) followed by medical school at the University of Michigan (2007).  He then completed a residency (2010), chief residency (2011) in internal medicine, cardiology fellowship (2014) and vascular medicine fellowship (2014) at the University of Michigan.  His areas of research interest include anticoagulation, venous thromboembolism, quality improvement and shared decision making.

Research Interests: 
Last Name: 
Barnes

Funded by the National Institutes of Health/Brigham and Women's Hospital/Boston University

Funding years: 2010-2013

The rapid identifcation of genetic risk factors for common, complex diseases poses great opportunities and challenges for public health. Genetic information is increasingly being utilized as part of commercial effors, including direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing to provide risk information on common diseases to consumers. Very few empirical data have been gathered to understand the characteristics of DTC test consumers, the psychological, behavioral and health impact (clinical utility), and the ethical, legal and social issues associated with DTC services.

In the proposed research, we will survey users of the two leading US companies providing DTC genetic testing (23andMe and Navigenics) regarding their response to genetic test s for common diseases of interest, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease (AD), arthritis, and breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers. Each company now has thousands of customers and each anticipates extensive sales in coming years. Each has agreed to allow our group to survey consumers using third-party data collection and analysis procedures that will enable an independent consideration of the benefits and risks of DTC testing in this format. The companies have also agreed to provide genetic test information (with respondents' permission) for analyses. A total of 1000 consumers (500 from each company) website will be surveyed via the Internet at three time points: 1) before receipt of genetic test results; 2) approximately two weeks following receipt of test results; and 3) six months following receipt of results.

More information: http://www.psc.isr.umich.edu/research/project-detail/35031

PI: Scott Roberts

Co-I: Mick Couper

Edward Goldman, JD, BA

Faculty

From 1978 to 2009, Ed was head of the U-M Health System Legal Office.  In 2009 he moved into the Medical School Department of ObGyn as an Associate Professor to work full-time on issues of sexual rights and reproductive justice.  He has teaching appointments in the Medical School, the School of Public Health, the Law School, and LSA Women's Studies.  He teaches courses on the legal and ethical aspects of medicine at the Medical School, the rules of human subjects research at the School of Public Health and reproductive justice in LSA and the Law School..  In 2011, Ed went to Ghana and helpe

Research Interests: 
Last Name: 
Goldman

Should this patient get a liver transplant? (Nov-08)

There aren't enough donor organs to go around for patients who need aliver transplant. This sometimes forces doctors to make tough choices.If you were the doctor, how would you decide in the following scenario?  There aren't enough donor organs to go around for patients who need a liver transplant. This sometimes forces doctors to make tough choices. If you were the doctor, how would you decide in the following scenario?Suppose there is a person who develops acute liver failure (ALF). While waiting for a liver transplant, this person gets sicker and sicker. When an organ is finally available, the chance that this person will survive WITH a transplant is only 42% at five years after the transplant. Since the average survival for most patients who receive a liver transplant is 75% at five years, the doctor wonders if it would be better to save the liver for someone else. Two possible ethical principles may guide the doctor in making this decision. 

Using the principle of URGENCY, the doctor would give the first available organ to the sickest patient on the transplant waiting list, the ALF patient, because she/he is otherwise likely to die within a few days.

Using the principle of UTILITARIANISM, the doctor would try to maximize the quality and quantity of life of all the people on the transplant list. Let's say there are 25 other patients currently on the waiting list, and transplanting the ALF patient increases their risk of death by 2% each, for a cumulative harm of 50%. Since this harm of 50% is more than the benefit to the ALF patient (42%), the liver should be saved for someone else on the list.

A third possibility is for the doctor to weigh both URGENCY and UTILITARIANISM in making a decision about a transplant.

If you were the ALF patient's doctor, what would you base your decision about a transplant on?
 
  • URGENCY (sickest patient on the list gets preference)
  • UTILITARIANISM (maximize benefit for the entire waiting list)
  • A combination of URGENCY and UTILITARIANISM

How do your answers compare?

There's no absolutely right or wrong answer in this case—the choice depends on which of several competing ethical principles or which combination of principles you follow. In choosing a combination of URGENCY and UTILITARIANISM, you've decided to try to balance the needs of the sickest patient with the needs of all the people on the transplant waiting list.

CBDSM researcher Michael Volk, MD, is the lead author on a recent article that tackles difficult decisions like this one. Volk and his colleagues examined a method to incorporate competing ethical principles in a decision analysis of liver transplantation for a patient with ALF. Currently, liver transplantation in the United States is determined by the principle of “sickest first," with patients at highest risk for death on the waiting list receiving first priority. In other words, the principle of URGENCY is paramount. However, most experts agree that, given the limited supply of organs, there should be a cutoff for posttransplant survival below which transplantation is no longer justified.

Where does society draw this line? And what framework can we use for ethical guidance?

Decision analysis of resource allocation would utilize the principle of UTILITARIANISM, to maximize the broad social benefit. But surveys of the general public have shown that most people prefer to temper utilitarianism with other considerations, such as equal opportunity, racial equity, and personal responsibility. Another factor that might be considered is the principle of fair chances. This is the idea that patients who have not had a chance at a liver transplant should receive priority over those who have already had once chance at a transplant.

Volk constructed a mathematical model (Markov model) to test the use of competing ethical principles. First he compared the benefit of transplantation for a patient with ALF to the harm caused to other patients on the waiting list, to determine the lowest acceptable five-year survival rate for the transplanted ALF patient. He found that giving a liver to the ALF patient resulted in harms to the others on the waiting list that cumulatively outweighed the benefit of transplantation for the ALF patient. That is, using UTILITARIANISM as the sole guiding ethical principle gave a clear threshold for the transplant decision: if the ALF patient did not have a five-year survival rate of at least 48%, she/he should not receive a transplant under this principle.

But UTILITARIANISM is not always the sole guiding ethical principle. When Volk adjusted the model to incorporate UTILITARIANISM, URGENCY, and other ethical principles such as fair chances, he got different thresholds. Depending on the combination of ethical principles used, Volk and his colleagues have shown that the threshold for an acceptable posttransplant survival at five years for the ALF patient would range from 25% to 56%.

The authors of this study conclude:

"Our model is an improvement over clinical judgment for several reasons. First, the complexity of the various competing risks makes clinical decision making challenging without some form of quantitative synthesis such as decision analysis. Second, a systematic approach helps ensure that all patients are treated equally. Most important, this study provides moral guidance for physicians who must simultaneously act as patient advocates and as stewards of scarce societal resources."

Volk ML, Lok ASF, Ubel PA, Vijan S, Beyond utilitarianism: A method for analyzing competing ethical principles in a decision analysis of liver transplantation, Med Decis Making 2008;28, 763-772.

Online: http://mdm.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/28/5/763

More information:

Beyond utilitarianism: A method for analyzing competing ethical principles in a decision analysis of liver transplantation.
Volk M, Lok AS, Ubel PA, Vijan S. Medical Decision Making 2008;28(5):763-772.

 

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