top of page

# How Do Absolute Numbers Show Absolutely Correct Data?

There are several reports talk about the benefits of absolute risk reduction numbers as compared to relative ones. These often make treatments seem better than they turn out to be. While both relative and absolute numbers enable healthcare professionals in interpreting health benefits for the patient,there’s a difference between both.

## What Are Absolute Risk/Benefit Numbers?

Absolute numbers of a disease show the risk of developing the disease againover a particular period. Everyone has some absolute risks of contracting various diseases like strokes, cancer, heart diseases, and whatnot? An absolute number can also be expressed in several different ways.

For instance, if you have a 1/10 risk of developing a particular disease in your lifetime. This can also be stated differently as 0.1 risksor 10% risk depending on whether you use decimals or percentages.

To decide whether you’ll be taking treatment will factor in various things. First, you’ll need to know the absolute risk of contracting a disease, second, the severity of the disease, third, the absolute risk after treatment, fourth, any side-effects after the treatment, and last the treatment costs.

To help you with a few examples, suppose your absolute risk number for contracting a particular disease is 4 in 1000. The treatment reduces this by 50%, meaning 4 is halved. Thus, the treatment you’ll undergo reduced your absolute risk by 2 in 1000.

Healthcare professionals can effectively develop treatments that best benefit your health using these numbers and patient doctor communication techniques. What’s more, if the disease is minor and you can likely recover from it, you can skip the treatment.

However, if the disease is fatal, anyreductions of absolute risk numbers are better than none. For instance, you may have a 1 out of 100 chance of developing a side-effect from a treatment. You may want to carefully consider taking the treatment as the risks of the side-effects can be higher than that of the disease.

Medical condition treatments are generally quoted as “treatment reduces risks of (x) disease by (y%).” While this appears promising, the actual benefit of absolute numbers depends on how rare or common contracting a disease is for you. So, when you’re deciding to take a treatment, consult with a medical professional about absolute risks.

Having effective patient-physician communication means can help youplan healthcare treatments for yourself. Other than helping patients, our services and the BCRTs help medical professionals communicate in clinical practices. This helps them collaborate and implement medical knowledge to best benefit a treatment decision. Contact us today for more information.