Every day, media headlines grab attention with percentages about risks that threaten overall health or behaviors that contribute to disease. Although reports state these risks as probabilities, it is easy to misinterpret these numbers. Evaluating risk is a method medical professionals use to more accurately determine the probability of contracting a disease or illness. it can also indicate the likelihood of a positive outcome for a specific treatment. Absolute risk and relative risk are different evaluations.
Some diseases and illnesses are more likely to respond to specific treatments and behavioral changes. Some treatments are highly effective and others that are more experimental or less-developed. Evaluating risk allows both health professionals and patients to determine the best course of treatment. Relative risk and absolute risk are both measured in percentages, but they differ in important ways. Doctors measure relative risk by comparing two groups, an affected group, and a control group, but the measurements can be misleading. Absolute risks reflect the probability of a specific outcome by measuring only the affected group.
cnythzl / Getty Images
Receive updates on the latest news and alerts straight to your inbox.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.