• Radiologic Technology News

Patients Misunderstand Imaging Risks

Jun 06, 2016

A new report published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology reveals that most patients lack basic knowledge about the risks from x-rays and other diagnostic imaging tests used to detect cancer.

In a survey of more than 5,400 patients at one comprehensive cancer center only about 22 percent of respondents could correctly define ionizing radiation as a type of energy, and roughly 29 percent incorrectly stated that magnetic resonance imaging tests used ionizing radiation. Twenty-four percent thought computed tomography scans posed a risk of sterility, and  about 12 percent thought there was a risk of either acute radiation sickness or passing genetic mutations to their offspring from the procedure.

Lead study author Dr. Joseph Steele of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston told Reuters Health, “Our concern is that the term ‘radiation’ may have a negative bias. Essentially, that irrational fear may result in patients not agreeing to something that is in their best interest.”

The study concluded that efforts to educate patients and ensure health literacy should be increased, and should include information about effects that are not risks of diagnostic imaging.

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