Discussing risk with patients

Discussing risk with patients

Bob Price Independent health services training consultant, Surrey, England

Nurses support patients to make decisions about risk on a regular basis. They aim to offer patients evidence regarding the choices available. However, it is necessary for patients to understand the components of risk and associated decisions, before shared decision-making can be realised. This article provides a straightforward explanation of risk and risk decision-making to enable nurses to support patients through the risk-assessment process. Consideration is given to the patient's predisposition towards risk, whether positive or negative, and the necessity of reviewing the patient's understanding of the risks involved. A model of risk assessment is presented, that considers the likelihood of a risk occurring and its possible effects on the patient. The article emphasises the importance of considering risk decisions in the long term, including the opportunities that are realised with each decision made. Case studies are used to consider these principles in practice.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2017.e10646



Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Received: 04 August 2016

Accepted: 30 January 2017

Published online: 05 April 2017