Assignment: Specific Health Risk

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Assignment: Specific Health Risk

Assignment: Specific Health Risk

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We are surrounded by dangers on every side. 
neighboring sneeze could make you more susceptible to the flu. 
Obesity increases your chances of contracting diabetes. 
Many cancers are made more likely by smoking. 
If you read the news, you could be concerned about food poisoning, Zika virus infection, shark attacks, and other dangers. 
What is the best way to figure out which health hazards are relevant to you?

Health dangers can be perplexing at times, but they’re crucial to comprehend. Knowing the hazards that you and your family may encounter can assist you in avoiding health issues. It can also help you avoid worrying about improbable threats. Knowing the risks and advantages of a medical therapy can assist you and your doctor in making well-informed choices.

“Understanding health risks is critical for making your own health-care decisions,” says Dr. William Elwood, a psychologist and behavioral scientist at the National Institutes of Health. 

“It puts prospective risks and advantages into perspective, allowing you to make informed decisions based on facts rather than anxieties.”

 

A health risk is the possibility or likelihood that something will harm or affect your health in some way. Risk does not imply that anything awful will undoubtedly occur. It’s only a speculative possibility. A number of factors, known as risk factors, influence whether your health risks are high or low.

Age, sex, family health history, lifestyle, and other factors all have role in your personal health risks. 
Some risk factors, like your genes or ethnicity, are unchangeable. 
Others, such as your nutrition, physical activity, and whether or not you wear seatbelt, are completely within your control.

Consider the types of people being mentioned when you examine health data. Your risks may differ if they’re not similar to you or if the group is too big. “More than half of Americans over 45 will acquire heart disease at some point,” for example, is based on statistical averages over the entire US population. 

Your risk of heart disease is significantly lower if you are under 45 years old. 

The bigger your risk, the more risk factors you have, such as smoking, high blood pressure, or diabetes. 

Exercise and nutritious diet, on the other hand, can reduce your risk of heart disease compared to the general population.

 

“We have an unjustified fear of risk,” Elwood explains. 

“We worry about things that are highly implausible, like Ebola in the United States. And we overlook preventative measures for diseases that are far more likely to affect us, such as heart disease or colon cancer.”

It can be intimidating to discuss health hazards. Risk concepts might be difficult for even doctors to grasp. That is why the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds research to better how doctors and others communicate health hazards and prevention techniques to patients and the general public.

“Math is difficult for many individuals in general. Yet, as Dr. Russell Rothman, a physician and scientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, points out, “math is often disguised in ordinary tasks that affect our health.” Rothman’s study focuses on assisting people in comprehending and working with numbers in order to lower their risk of diabetes and obesity, including childhood obesity.

The way numbers are described, or “framed,” has been shown to alter how we hear and understand health information in studies. Different descriptions can influence the clarity of the information as well as the emotions evoked. For example, from a different perspective, the statement “More than 20% of Americans will eventually die of cancer” can sound less frightening: “Nearly 80% of Americans will not die of cancer.” “More than 1 in 5 Americans will die of cancer at some point,” the same information can sound clearer as a ratio: “More than 1 in 5 Americans will die of cancer at some point.” According to research, images or diagrams are typically the most understandable—for example, depicting five human figures, one of which is colored differently. Assignment: Specific Health Risk

It helps to focus on a math concept called “absolute risk” to grasp the potential hazards or advantages of a medical treatment or behavior change. Absolute risk refers to the probability of anything occurring, such as a long-term health concern. For example, a disease may impact 2 out of every 100 middle-aged men over the course of their lives. If a medicine reduces their disease risk to one in100, the drug has lowered their absolute risk by one person in100, or 1%. To put it another way, you’d have to treat 100 people with this treatment to prevent just one more person from contracting the disease.

However, you may frequently hear figures that employ related notion known as “relative risk.” 

The absolute risks of one group are compared to the absolute dangers of another. Because 1 is half of2, you could also say that the medicine lowered the chance of sickness by 50% in the example above. If you only consider relative risk, you might conclude that the medicine is highly effective.

“Many times, the relative danger appears to be far bigger than the absolute risk,” Rothman argues. It’s important to focus on the absolute risk when hearing numbers about risk.

When people’s emotions are running high, such as when they’re dealing with a major illness, health concerns can be more difficult to comprehend. People with advanced cancer tended to predict better outcomes and longer survival durations following therapy than their doctors, according to a recent NIH-funded study. The majority of patients were unaware that their viewpoint differed from that of their doctors. Patients’ willingness to endure harsh treatments may be influenced by such misunderstandings.

Assignment: Specific Health Risk

Dr. Ronald M. Epstein of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, the study’s principal researcher, adds, “Communication is a two-way street.” “Doctors must provide support and answers in order for good dialogues to take place. Patients must also ask pertinent inquiries.” Epstein and his colleagues are working on ways to assist clinicians and patients have realistic conversations about emotions, treatment options, and anticipated consequences.

“We’ve demonstrated that it is feasible to improve talks.” Patients should come prepared with three or four big-picture questions to ask their doctors, according to Epstein. Questions for patients with advanced cancer can include: What effect will treatment have on my quality of life? What is the typical time for this form of cancer to be cured?

“Asking those types of questions can be intimidating. “There are instances when you don’t really want to know the answers or when you have conflicting emotions,” Epstein explains. “Doctors can assist by facilitating communication. ‘Tell me what’s on your mind,’ they can say. ‘Have you got any questions?’ Such candid discussions can aid patients and their families in making better health decisions.

Begin by discussing your health risks with your doctor. Inquire about ways to lower your risks. For dependable health information, refer to reputable sources like the National Institutes of Health’s health.nih.gov.

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