New findings presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) show that patients have little knowledge of the role of radiologists in health care. The research, study authors noted, was inspired by a presentation from Gary Glazer, MD, a pioneering leader in radiology at Stanford who passed away last year.
In the study, researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine surveyed patients undergoing outpatient CT. During a four-month period, more than 300 participants met with a radiologist and then answered questions about radiologists' profession and involvement in patient care. As described in a RSNA release:
Slightly more than 64 percent of respondents reported that they had little or no idea what radiologists do. Only 35.8 percent reported having much understanding, despite the fact that almost 83 percent replied that is was important or very important to know who interprets their imaging exams. Overall experience was reported as very positive by 70 percent of those who met a radiologist versus 53 percent of those who did not meet a radiologist.
"We need to better understand what patients want to know about radiologists in order to improve service and patient care," [radiology resident Peter D. Miller, MD] said. "In my experience, people who've had the opportunity to interact with radiologists appreciated the chance to talk with them and get their thoughts on the imaging results."
Researchers' recommendations for tools to increase awareness about the profession include print and electronic materials, social media and increased interaction between radiologists and patients.