Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Absolute Risk

  • J. Rick TurnerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_985


Absolute risk is best defined in conjunction with relative risk. For this example, we can define risk as the likelihood of an adverse consequence in two behavioral medicine interventions, Treatment A and Treatment B. Imagine that the risk is 1 in 10 for Treatment A and 2 in 10 for Treatment B. In this case, a relative risk statement can be made, saying that the probability of the event occurring following Treatment B is twice the probability of the event occurring following Treatment A. However, the same relative risk statement can be made for probabilities of 1 in 1,000,000 and 2 in 1,000,000. However, the absolute risks are vastly different: 1 and 2 in 10; and 1 and 2 in a million.


Imagine that an intervention with beneficial therapeutic properties increased your risk of an adverse consequence (an event) from 1 in 10 to 2 in 10. It is possible that some individuals may consider that the risk is too great, and that they are not prepared to take this risk. Now...

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References and Readings

  1. Gordon-Lubitz, R. J. (2003). Risk communication: Problems of presentation and understanding. Journal of the American Medical Association, 289, 95.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cardiovascular SafetyQuintilesDurhamUSA