'...this text...will become a reference for years to come' - Health Expectations . This is the first book to clearly assess the increasingly important area of communication of risk in the health sector. We are moving away from the days when paternalistic doctors managed healthcare without involving patients in decision making. With the current emphasis on patient empowerment and shared decision making, patients want and need reliable, comprehensive and understandable information about their conditions and treatment. In order to make informed decisions, the people concerned must understand the risks and benefits associated with possible treatments. But the challenge for health professionals is how best to communicate this complex medical information to diverse audiences.The book examines: risk - defining and explaining how the term is used by different disciplines, how its meanings have changed over time and how the general public understand it; health communication and the effects on health behaviours; effective risk communication to individuals and the wider public; effectiveness of patient information leaflets, and strategies for improving oral and written health communications; the cognitive and emotional issues at stake for patients in understanding risk and health information; the use of new technologies in risk and health communication; and, ethical issues, and the future of risk communication. Using examples from disciplines including psychology, sociology, health, medicine, pharmacy, statistics and business and management, this book is key reading for students who need to understand the effect of risk in health psychology as well as for health professionals interested in doctor-patient communication, informed consent and patient welfare.