Risk and probability

Numbers can be used in different ways to mean the same thing. Here is a guide to help:

More examples:

On this website and in our leaflets, we have linked numbers to words like in the scale below. For example in the sentence 'nerve damage is rare' – you know that it means that the risk of nerve damage in that circumstance is about 1 in 10,000. You will also find that more exact numbers are used in some places, to give you the best information available.

Pictures and diagrams are sometimes used to help you understand what is meant by these numbers. This may help you decide how you feel about the risk that has been explained to you.

The way you feel about a risk is very personal to you, and depends on your personality, your own experiences and often your family and cultural background. You may be a 'risk taker', a 'risk avoider' , or somewhere in between. You may know someone who has had a risk happen to them, even though that is very unusual. Or you may have read in the newspapers about a risk and be especially worried about it.

The following diagram may also help you decide how you feel about a risk: