Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon


Deciding whether to take (or prescribe) a long-term preventive treatment can be difficult for both patients and doctors. To make an informed decision as to whether to accept this type of treatment requires an understanding of the risk of developing the condition we wish to prevent, the degree to which the treatment will reduce this risk and the potential of the treatment to cause side effects. This information can be presented in several ways, and a patient's likelihood of accepting treatment is influenced by the method used. It is not known how the method of communicating a drug's effect will influence a patient's decision to take treatment to prevent hip fractures.

This randomised trial will examine two methods of presenting the benefits and harms of a hypothetical drug treatment for preventing hip fractures. We will interview 400 women, calculate their risk of hip fracture and then present them with a predicted risk reduction achieved by regular use of the hypothetical drug. Participants will be randomised to be given this information in either absolute or relative terms. Participants will also be randomised to receive information on the drug's harms in absolute or relative terms. We will then compare the proportions of patients accepting treatment in the different communication method groups.

It is hoped that this research will provide a clearer understanding of the effect of risk communication on acceptance of fracture-prevention treatment and that this will help improve the way we discuss these treatments with patients to allow better informed decision making about their use.

Funded by

  • University of Otago Research


  • Hudson, B., Toop, L., Mangin, D., & Pearson, J. (2011). Risk communication methods in hip fracture prevention: A randomised trial in primary care. British Journal of General Practice, 61(589), e469-e476.
    doi: 10.3399/bjgp11X588439
Back to top