When it comes to health risks and behavior change, seeing is believing

Seeing Is Believing When It Comes To Health Risk And Behavior Change

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and researchers have discovered that employing medical imaging technologies to depict health might deter risky behaviors more effectively than non-visual information.

Individuals who have an imaging technique and are presented visual tailored information about their own risk of disease may be more inclined to minimize dangerous behaviors, according to a meta-analysis published on March 3rd in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine.

Noncommunicable illnesses, which are connected to behaviors like smoking, poor food, and lack of physical activity, are projected to account for more than two-thirds of fatalities worldwide each year. Many therapies aim to induce behavior change in order to lessen hazards. Researchers want to know if the increasing usage of medical imaging technologies can help.

A meta-analysis of 21 randomized controlled trials involving over 9,000 adult participants was undertaken by Gareth Hollands and colleagues at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Following an imaging technique, such as computed tomography, ultrasound, or radiography, participants were either presented visual examples of tailored risk information in addition to health information or advice, or they were given health information or advice without visual feedback.

Smoking, medication use, physical activity, food, oral hygiene, sun protection, tanning booth use, blood glucose monitoring, skin self-examination, and foot care were among the behaviors studied in the trials.

The strongest evidence supported quitting smoking, eating a healthier diet, increasing physical exercise, and practicing better oral hygiene. Following visualized feedback, single studies found greater skin self-examination and foot care.

Visual interventions enhanced the other behaviors, but the results were not statistically significant. The authors believe that the advancement of medical imaging technologies can be used to assist people in making lifestyle changes and reducing illness risks.

Hollands continues, “Healthcare workers are increasingly relying on medical imaging scans. This study shows that revealing scan results to patients to highlight the state of their health could drive them to behave in a better way, based on previous studies.”