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Visualizing Health

Main Project Information
Goal Create images to effectively communicate health risk information
Task Use the wizard to choose the graphic that suits your question
Where Online only

When it comes to our bodies, data abounds. We all have a blood pressure, weight, cholesterol levels, A1c, BMI, and more. We have risks, too. We might have or be at risk for cancer, or heart disease, or have a higher risk of experiencing a side effect of a medication or treatment than someone else.

In theory, this data can help us make better decisions about our health. Should I take this pill? Will it help me more than it hurts me? How can I reduce my risk? And so on.

But for individuals, it’s not always easy to understand what the numbers are telling us. And for those communicating the information – doctors, hospitals, researchers, public health professionals — it’s not always clear what sort of presentation will make the most sense to the most people.

That problem is the inspiration behind Visualizing Health, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Michigan Center for Health Communications Research. This site contains 54 examples of tested visualizations – that is, graphic displays of health information that we’ve evaluated through research among the general public. Our objective was to create a gallery of beautiful and easy-to-make-sense-of graphs, charts, and images that effectively communicate risk information. Health data that makes sense.

How to Join

The central tool of Visualizing Health is our Wizard. This tool lets users choose images based on various concerns or needs. Not all graphs work for all purposes. The graphical style you choose will probably depend on the goal of your risk communication. So we've built the Wizard to help clarify your goals.

The Wizard will ask you a few simple questions and then it will lead you to the category of risk graphics that most closely matches yours.

Note that the Wizard requires users to identify a primary goal: the main point of your risk communication.

These visualizations are distributed via a Creative Commons license, which allows anybody – academics, healthcare organizations, even for-profit businesses — to adapt them for their own objectives. Please use them – and tell us how you’re using them by emailing us at

You can start using the wizard at

Required Gear

Computer with internet

Ideal Age Group Adults
Spend the Time indoors
Project Updated 04/21/2017