Friday, June 29, 2012

Could the Number-Needed-to-Treat (NNT) Empower Health Care Consumers?

Here's an example of how information is
presented on
I've been thinking about the  Number-Needed-to-Treat  (NNT) lately. Dr. Tuckson mentioned it at the Modernizing Healthcare event I attended. Edward Tufte talked about it in a course on presenting data and information that I attended. And, then it came up again in one of the books I'm reading, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, where I learned of

Here's the basic idea as described on the site. "The NNT offers a measurement of the impact of a medicine or therapy by estimating the number of patients that need to be treated in order to have an impact on one person. The concept is statistical, but intuitive, for we know that not everyone is helped by a medicine or intervention — some benefit, some are harmed, and some are unaffected. The NNT tells us how many of each." 

One of our goals is to "Help ASHA staff to be health-conscious consumers." I'd like to empower staff to have conversations with their physicians to better understand the likelihood that they will be helped, or harmed, or unaffected, by a given medication or procedure. Could educating staff about NNT help us achieve this goal? 


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