Statistical literacy and risk communication for COVID-19 vaccination: a scoping review

Palmeiro-Silva et al.


To describe the role of statistical literacy and proper risk communication in communication strategies related to COVID-19 vaccination.


A scoping review was carried out in January 2021, with the keywords “statistical literacy,” “risk communication,” “health communication,” and “pandemic,” in the Pan American Health Organization Virtual Health Library, PubMed, Web of Science, EBSCO, and Google Scholar databases. No filters were applied for dates, language, or publication type.


Of the 87 articles identified, four met the inclusion criteria. Four main messages were recognized that relate statistical literacy and risk communication: 1) risk communication and statistical literacy level affect individual and collective decision-making; 2) communication of uncertainty should include what is known and not known with regard to statistics and risks; 3) the use of graphics and visuals is key to appropriately informing the population; and 4) different formats should be used to improve communication, always adjusted to the population’s statistical literacy level


Statistical literacy plays a key role in communicating risks related to health in general and COVID-19 vaccination in particular. In health emergencies, proper communication of risk and associated uncertainty should be clear, transparent, and timely.

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