It’s not only patients who have trouble interpreting some medical tests.

Interpreting test results can sometimes be easy and sometimes be very difficult.

If you are at all interested in this area then first you should read our article: Validation, Use and Interpretation of Laboratory Tests. When you have digested that, then read this very interesting article on the BBC News magazine website; Do doctors understand test results?

Some tests, particularly screening tests, can be very hard to interpret because you have to take into account the fact that the prevalence of the disease being screened for is usually low. Thus because the sensitivity and specificity of tests are less than 100%, the rate of false-positive test results may be a lot higher than the rate of true-positive test results and this can fool the unwary.

Gerd Gigerenzer, director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy in Berlin, is a psychologist and statistician and an expert in uncertainty and decision-making. The BBC News article discusses some of the issues he raises in his new book; “Risk Savvy”.



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