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How should the risks of HRT really be communicated? A new article...

Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication

News - How should the risks of HRT really be communicated? A new article...

After a recent new paper on the potential harms of HRT garnered a lot of dramatic media coverage, María & David have written a new, open access, article on how the numbers might best be communicated to allow women to make clear choices:

What can women do when confronted with claims about the risks of HRT?

There are things that we can all do when we come across a claim about any risk, the first being to be aware that the way that risks or benefits are ‘framed' can influence our perception on their magnitude, and that we may end up with exaggerated fears or reassurances. It is then important to ask some critical questions such as:

  • What does that risk mean for 100 or 1000 people like me?

  • Does the information provide both benefits and risks?

  • Why am I hearing this? What interests do the communicators have, and are they trying to properly inform and empower me, or manipulate and persuade me?

In the end, there is no a straightforward answer to whether HRT is a good option for a particular woman, and we can only recommend seeking reliable sources of information, talking to a trusted health care professional, and together consider the benefits and risks and make a personalised choice.

Research on potential harms and benefits is essential to keep us updated about the best available options for our health, but the way that research is reported can needlessly increase anxiety. Better communication and understanding of risk might move us towards less confusion and better personalised decisions.