A patient who does not grasp certain mathematical relationships may have some difficulty in understanding decisions based on chance occurrences. Schwartz et al used a numeracy score to help identify those patients who may benefit from additional explanation about risk.


The numeracy score is the number of correct responses to the following 3 questions:

(1) What is your best guess of the number of heads coming up in 1,000 flips of a fair coin?

(2) What percentage corresponds to 1 in 1,000?

(3) What proportion corresponds to 1%


While this may seem trivial, in the study of Woloshin et al 50% of VA medical center patients had a score <= 1.


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