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The Paling Palettes

Paling Palettescopyright were designed to address the needs of hospitals and clinics where, although the general public rarely understands it, most risks that a patient encounters are massively more likely than the “worries of the week and the molecules of the moment” that the public hears about in the non-healthcare arena.

The concept and designs of Paling Palettescopyright seem blindingly obvious now but were in fact developed and tested in a series of progressive improvements as we tried to adapt the Paling Perspective Scalescopyright for healthcare. The resulting Palette designs have been tested with real patients in genetic counseling scenarios and the results were outstandingly positive. Patients unanimously rated the palettes higher than all other methods used to communicate risks.


The Paling Palettecopyright offers so many benefits for doctors that we strongly believe that copies of it should be kept on hand for most informed consents. Doctors who use Palettes are improving the chances of their patients understanding their risks as well as deepening the bond of partnering with their patients.

Paling Palettescopyright achieve the following benefits.

1. They cost effectively nothing, take no more of the doctor’s time and give better results
2. Patients of all ages, languages and different national backgrounds immediately see and understand the level of likelihood that is being communicated.
3. Patients simultaneously see the positive and the negative predicted outcomes. (This is very important since patients react differently to a choice when the outcomes are presented from a positive (eg 97% surviving) or a negative perspective (3% chance of dying).
4. It is immediately and accurately understood by patients. Unlike a logarithmic format, what you see is what you get.
5. Doctors can use it as a social lubricant as they sit side by side with their patients. The original purpose of the scale was to help patient understanding but with our experience of their use we see that probably as great a benefit is the social lubricant effect. The fact that something physical and relevant can be shared with patients is a prime opportunity for deepening bonds of trust and partnership.
6. Using Paling Palettescopyright actually delivers “information” in informed consent- not just “data”.
7. Paling Palettescopyright can serve as the basis for all informed consent discussion. ( In Paling’s opinion, risks of lower probability than 1in 1000 should not be mandated for practical purposes, as part of an informed consent requirement for a surgical procedure. General Anesthesia would feature as “less that 1 in a 1000” and could be described as such.)

Here are some Paling Palettescopyright in use in healthcare care contexts
People can download (below) blank, template versions of these scales for their own purposes.

Palettes are designed to match the population of patients they are designed for. For example they can be obtained as women only, men only, families (ratio of 2 adults to 2 children) , or babies only

Much more information is available in the book Medics are From Mars and Patients are From Pluto. How to help patients understand risks.

Here are some Paling Palettescopyright in use in healthcare care contexts
People can download blank, template versions of these scales for their own purposes.
Palette One
Palette Two

>> View All Available Templates

If you would like us to customize our communications tools to focus on
your own needs, or if you would like to inquire about John Paling speaking
at your next meeting, please contact us by phone or e-mail.

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