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  • Patients Lack Information About Imaging Exams

    One in five patients are showing up for radiologic exams without any pre-test information.

    February 13, 2018


    Patients and their caregivers desire information about upcoming imaging examinations, but many are not getting it, according to a new study in Radiology.

    The researchers found that over one-fifth of patients and caregivers did not receive information prior to their imaging examinations and out of all the people surveyed, half sought information about imaging tests on their own.

    “As medicine shifts to an era of patient-centered care, much of the efforts in radiology have focused on communicating the results of imaging tests to patients,” said study lead author Jay K. Pahade, MD, associate professor of radiology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. “Less attention has been paid to engaging patients prior to and during the examination.”

    Dr. Pahade and colleagues surveyed patients and caregivers at three pediatric and three adult hospitals across the U.S. about their preferences for receiving imaging test information before an examination and what type of information they found most useful.

    Overall, 78 percent of the 1,438 respondents reported receiving information about their examination. Respondents with scheduled MRI or nuclear medicine examinations were more likely to receive information prior to testing (87 percent and 82 percent, respectively), as were patients who had previously experienced more than six radiologic exams (82 percent).

    When asked to rate what information they consider to be valuable prior to a radiologic examination, respondents in both types of hospitals placed the highest importance on examination preparation and the lowest importance on whether an alternative radiation-free examination could be used. Parents, who were primarily responding to the pediatric hospital survey, placed an even higher value on any and all pre-examination information.

    The single most common source of information about an upcoming radiologic exam was the ordering provider (64 percent) and most respondents preferred to receive information from them (72 percent). The radiology department or imaging center was a distant second as a source of information (19 percent) followed by staff members in the department or imaging center (16 percent).

    Half of all the survey respondents (52 percent) reported independently seeking information about radiology examinations themselves, including asking the provider’s office or heading to general websites. Researchers recommended increasing the promotion of available sites such as RadiologyInfo.org, an online resource for medical imaging, jointly sponsored by RSNA and the American College of Radiology.

    “A lack of information can negatively affect a patient’s experience and since anxiety is known to be higher among uniformed patients, radiology needs to take more ownership over the entire imaging process,” Dr. Pahade said. “It’s important for radiology to design, improve and implement a more patient-centered model of healthcare delivery that closes the gap for pre-imaging education.”


    Pahade table
    Table shows the percentages reported by respondents for the importance of specific information prior to their or their dependent's examination.

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