Probability and informed consent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we illustrate some serious difficulties involved in conveying information about uncertain risks and securing informed consent for risky interventions in a clinical setting. We argue that in order to secure informed consent for a medical intervention, physicians often need to do more than report a bare, numerical probability value. When probabilities are given, securing informed consent generally requires communicating how probability expressions are to be interpreted and communicating something about the quality and quantity of the evidence for the probabilities reported. Patients may also require guidance on how probability claims may or may not be relevant to their decisions, and physicians should be ready to help patients understand these issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-566
Number of pages22
JournalTheoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Bayesianism
  • Decisions
  • Frequentism
  • Informed consent
  • Medical ethics
  • Philosophy of medicine
  • Probability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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