Your doctor may use statistics to tell you what they know about a treatment. Statistics are a way of presenting information 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 drug may include statistics on:
- how effective it is
- possible side effects
- how severe the side effects are
- how many people are affected by the side effects.
It is important to remember that statistics are based on large numbers of people. They cannot tell you what is going to happen to one individual, but they can give you an idea of how likely it is.
For example, some drugs can cause nausea (feeling sick) in some people. If a drug you are offered causes nausea in 80 out of 100 people (80%), you cannot know exactly whether you will feel sick or not, but it is quite likely. If you are offered a different drug that causes nausea in just 30 out of 100 people (30%), it is a lot less likely that you will feel sick.