Scientific risk reporting in medical journals can bias expert judgment: Comparing surgeons' risk comprehension across reporting formats.J Exp Psychol Appl 2019JE
A recent systematic search of orthopedic surgery literature suggests that scientific risk reporting often deviates from best practices in specific ways (Petrova, Joeris, Sanchez, Salamanca-Fernandez, & Garcia-Retamero, 2018). These deviations could cause dangerous biases in health professionals' risk interpretations and risk communication practices. To investigate potential vulnerabilities, we conducted the first comparative study estimating the effects of common reporting formats on the judgment of experienced orthopedic surgeons during risk evaluations (i.e., interpreting medical research on the risk of suffering postsurgical side effects in patients). Results indicate that highly trained surgeons were often misled and strongly biased by the most commonly used formats identified in the systematic review. In contrast, less common formats following best practice standards (e.g., transparent visual aids) typically reduced or eliminated judgment biases by helping surgeons identify and compare essential information, streamlining deliberation and reducing subjective confusion. Discussion focuses on implications including additional analyses showing that the use of misleading formats in scientific medical literature is frequent, even in recent years, and it is independent of many other factors (e.g., journal impact, study quality). A broad three-category system for characterizing the probable impact of specific risk reporting formats is discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).