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Risk Communication

In a world that is fundamentally uncertain, society needs to be prepared to deal with risks and uncertainty in a proper way. However, often this is not the case, and the psychological consequences of misperceiving risks can have severe, physical consequences. First, this entry illustrates why this issue is important. Then, typical misunderstandings that happen in risk communication are explained, as well as how these misunderstandings can be avoided and insight reached.

Example

In October 1995, the U.K. Committee on the Safety of Medicines issued a warning that third-generation oral contraceptive pills containing desogestrel or gestodene increased the risk of venous thromboembolism by 100%. That is, the risk was twofold. This information was passed on in 190,000 letters to general practitioners, pharmacists, and directors of public health ...

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