WHO EPI-WIN webinar: Communicating risks and evidence in a Public Health Emergency (3) 5 rules for evidence and risk communication

17 September, 2021

[Note from HIFA moderator (Neil): Our thanks to Richard for representing HIFA at the event on 14 September. Here is his second summary/observation. A recording of the webinar is now available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za0t0B-jP1Q ]

The Five rules for evidence and risk communication are similar to the UK GMC regulation guidance on decision making and informed consent

The Five rules for evidence and risk communication :

Prevent data fully and clearly. Record risks and benefits, Consider a PROVE matrix:

P – Preempt misinformation and misunderstanding (Think ahead, and if possible research, about what misinformation and misunderstandings the audience may already have.)

R – Reliably inform – Informa an and not persuade

O – Offer accurate balance and not false balance

V – Verify quality – State evidence quality – ('a man told me in the lift' to '100,000 patient peer reviewed trial' etc!)

E - Explain uncertainty – disclose uncertainties.

UK GMC guidelines on Decision making and consent


Published 30 September 2020, in effect from 9 November 2020

Doctors must try to find out what matters to patients so they can share relevant information about the benefits and harms of proposed options and reasonable alternatives, including the option to take no action.

The information you give patients You must give patients the information they want or need to make a decision. You must try to make sure the information you share with patients about the options is objective. You should be aware of how your own preferences might influence the advice you give and the language you use. You must not put pressure on a patient to accept your advice

You should not rely on assumptions about: a the information a patient might want or need, b the factors a patient might consider significant, c the importance a patient might attach to different outcomes.

Exceptional circumstances in which you may decide not to share all relevant information 14 There may be circumstances in which you decide not to share all relevant information with a patient straight away. You should not withhold information a patient needs to make a decision for any other reason, including if someone close to the patient asks you to. In very exceptional circumstances you may feel that sharing information with a patient would cause them serious harm and, if so, it may be appropriate to withhold it.


HIFA profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP, British Medical Association. Professional interests: Health literacy, patient partnership of trust and implementation of healthcare with professionals, family and public involvement in the prevention of modern lifestyle diseases, patients using access to professional records to overcome confidentiality barriers to care, patients as part of the policing of the use of their patient data. Email address: richardpeterfitton7 AT gmail.com