The effects of infographics and several quantitative versus qualitative formats for cardiovascular disease risk, including heart age, on people's risk understanding

Olga C. Damman, Suzanne I. Vonk, Maaike J. van den Haak, Charlotte M. J. van Hooijdonk, Danielle R. M. Timmermans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To study how comprehension of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk is influenced by: (1) infographics about qualitative risk information, with/without risk numbers; (2) which qualitative risk dimension is emphasized; (3) heart age vs. traditional risk format. Methods: For aim 1, a 2 (infographics versus text) x 2 (risk number versus no risk number) between-subjects design was used. For aim 2, three pieces of information were tested within-subjects. Aim 3 used a simple comparison group. Participants (45–65 yrs old) were recruited through an online access panel; low educated people were oversampled. They received hypothetical risk information (20%/61yrs). Primary outcomes: recall, risk appraisals, subjective/objective risk comprehension. Secondary outcomes: behavioral intentions, information evaluations. Results: Infographics of qualitative risk dimensions negatively affected recall, subjective risk comprehension and information evaluations. No effect of type of risk dimension was found on risk perception. Heart age influenced recall, comprehension, evaluations and affective risk appraisals. Conclusion: Infographics of hypothetical CVD risk information had detrimental effects on measures related to risk perception/comprehension, but effects were mainly seen in undereducated participants. Heart age influenced perceptions/comprehension of hypothetical risk in a way that seemed to support understanding. Practice implications: Heart age seems a fruitful risk communication approach in disease risk calculators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1410-1418
Number of pages9
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number8
Early online date11 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Infographics
  • Informed decision making
  • Online risk calculators
  • Risk communication

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