Emergency department patient knowledge and physician communication regarding computed tomography (CT) scans [abstract] Abstract uri icon
  • Background: Computed tomography (CT) is being utilized very commonly in the emergency department (ED). CT is associated with radiation doses that can increase the overall lifetime risk for cancer. Based on prior literature, very few patients are aware of these risks (Lee, 2004). However, numerous recent articles in medical journals have been published highlighting the risks and these articles have been reported in the lay press.
    Objectives: To determine: 1. Has the recent attention in both the medical literature and lay press increased public knowledge about the radiation exposure and cancer risks associated with CT scans? 2. Are health care providers in the ED discussing radiation risks associated with CT scans with patients prior to ordering CT scans? 3. Does patient level of education affect knowledge about the radiation exposure and cancer risks associated with CT scans? 4. Do patients want to know about possible radiation risks associated with CT scans?
    Methods: We conducted a survey of clinically stable patients in the ED undergoing CT after the scan had been performed.
    Results: Two hundred patients were surveyed. Eighty-two (41%) were aware that CT scans are associated with radiation exposure. Fifty (25%) patients were aware that radiation from CT can increase overall lifetime risk of cancer compared with 2/77 (2.6%) in a similar study conducted in 2004 (Lee). Twenty-nine (14.5%) providers specifically discussed radiation risk with patients prior to the CT compared with only 1/77 (1.3%) in 2004. Education levels were evenly distributed from some high school through postgraduate study. There was a significant trend towards knowledge that CT uses x-rays among those with more education (56% of those with some high school versus 83% of those with a college degree and 75% of those with a postgraduate degree - Cochran-Armitage test for trend: p = 0.0217). However, there was no association between level of education and knowledge of cancer risk associated with radiation risk from CT. Eighty-two (41%) would have liked more information regarding radiation risks from the provider.
    Conclusion: ED patient knowledge has increased significantly over the past 6 years. At the same time, ED providers are more commonly discussing these risks. Level of education is associated with knowledge that CT uses x-rays, but not with knowledge that this is associated with a greater risk of cancer. Patients want to be informed.

  • publication date
  • 2011
  • published in
  • Adverse Effects
  • Communication
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Questionnaires
  • Radiography
  • Risk Factors
  • Additional Document Info
  • 18
  • issue
  • 5 Suppl 1