Making Risk Visible. The role of images in the assessment of (cancer) genetic risk

Lindsay Prior, F. Wood, J. Gray, R. Pill, D. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


Whilst analysis of 'risk' (in its many conceptual shapes) has loomed large in both medicine and social sciences over the past 25 years, detailed investigations as to how risk assessments are actually put together (in either lay or professional contexts) are few in number. The studies that are available usually focus on the use of words or everyday conversation in assembling risk. Talking about risk is, of course, important, but what tends to be ignored is the fact that risk can be and is often made visible. For example, it can be made visible through the use of tables, charts, diagrams and various kinds of sophisticated laboratory images. This paper concentrates on the role of such images in the context of a cancer genetics clinic and its associated laboratory. Precisely how these images are tied into the production of risk estimates, how professionals discuss and use such images in clinical work, and how professionals reference them to display facts about risk is the focus of the paper. The paper concludes by highlighting the significance of different kinds of visibility for an understanding of genetic abnormalities and how such differences might impact on the attempts of lay people to get to grips with risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-258
Number of pages18
JournalHealth Risk and Society
Volume4 (3)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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