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E-DRUG: Frequency adjectives/adverbs

Does anyone know of serious attempts to define (in the hope of eventually
standardising) the meanings of the words commonly used to describe the frequency
of, for example, complications of treatment, adverse drug reactions?  These
words mean quite different things to different people and pollute a great deal
of important information.  I would be surprised if this had not been
systematically studied by psychologists and statisticians, but I don't know the
literature on it.

When asked how I would interpret the English words that tend to be used
in information about medicines, my answers off the cuff were:

        usual                           = 80% or over
        common  [or frequent]           = 15-50%, 
        very common                     = over 50%
        uncommon  [or infrequent]       = less than 5% [over 1%]
        rare                            = around 0.1%
        very rare                       = 0.01% or less

I would be grateful for help with this problem, and will post a summary
of the light shed on it.

Andrew Herxheimer                       
                                phone: +44 181 346 5470
9 Park Crescent                 fax       : +44 181 346 0407
London N3 2NL   UK              e-mail: 101364.2017@compuserve.com


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