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Risk perception refers to people's subjective impression of riskiness. Objective ways of defining risk involve the uncertainty of outcomes, their negativity, or both (“the risk of dying during surgery”). Subjective perception of risk (related to health, safety, or financial outcomes) is determined not only by these readily quantifiable outcome dimensions but also by more qualitative characteristics such as decision makers' familiarity with choice options, perceived control, and institutional trust.

Understanding risk perception matters in the context of medical decision making for multiple reasons. Informed consent requires an accurate understanding of risks and benefits. The design of risk communication messages needs to consider people's processing of risk information to ensure that risks are understood in their correct magnitude. Since policy makers and physicians often differ from the ...

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