Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the US, and yet most cases represent localized cancer for which the optimal treatment is unclear. Accumulating evidence suggests that the available treatment options, including surgery and conservative treatment, result in a similar prognosis for most men with localized prostate cancer. However, approximately 90% of patients choose surgery over conservative treatment, despite the risk of severe side effects like erectile dysfunction and incontinence. Recent medical research suggests that a key reason is the lack of patient-centered tools that can effectively communicate personalized risk information and enable them to make better health decisions. In this paper, we report the iterative design process and results of developing the PROgnosis Assessment for Conservative Treatment (PROACT) tool, a personalized health risk communication tool for localized prostate cancer patients. PROACT utilizes two published clinical prediction models to communicate the patients' personalized risk estimates and compare treatment options. In collaboration with the Maine Medical Center, we conducted two rounds of evaluations with prostate cancer survivors and urologists to identify the design elements and narrative structure that effectively facilitate patient comprehension under emotional distress. Our results indicate that visualization can be an effective means to communicate complex risk information to patients with low numeracy and visual literacy. However, the visualizations need to be carefully chosen to balance readability with ease of comprehension. In addition, due to patients' charged emotional state, an intuitive narrative structure that considers the patients' information need is critical to aid the patients' comprehension of their risk information.
IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics. 2017 Jan [Epub]
Anzu Hakone, Lane Harrison, Alvitta Ottley, Nathan Winters, Caitlin Gutheil, Paul K J Han, Remco Chang