Healthcare professionals may use statistics to tell you what they know about a particular treatment. They sometimes explain things using the terms benefit and risk.
Your doctor may use statistics to tell you what they know about a particular treatment. They are a way of presenting information (also called data) using numbers. We come across statistics in many areas of daily life – not just in healthcare. They can be useful when making decisions about treatment.
For example, information about a new drug may include data on:
- how effective it is for someone in your situation
- possible side effects
- how severe the side effects are
- how many people are affected by the side effects.
It’s important to remember that statistics are based on large numbers of people. They can’t tell you what is going to happen to one individual, but they can give you an idea of how likely it is.
For example, if you’re offered a drug that causes nausea (feeling sick) in 80% of people (80 out of 100), you don’t know exactly whether you will feel sick or not, but it is quite likely. But if you’re offered a different drug that causes nausea in just 30% of people (30 out of 100), it’s a lot less likely that you will feel sick.