Patient Attitudes Toward CT Risk Assessed

Most feel cancer risk from CT in emergency department is low; use in diagnosis is important

TUESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Emergency department patients requiring computed tomography (CT) appear more concerned about having their condition diagnosed with CT imaging than they are about their risk of cancer associated with the procedure, according to research published in the November issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Kevin M. Takakuwa, M.D., of the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, and colleagues analyzed data from 383 emergency department patients, mean age 48 years, who were surveyed before a CT examination.

The researchers found that 79 percent of patients correctly responded that their risk of cancer from chest radiography was none, small, or very small, as did 83 percent of patients regarding CT. However, just 34 percent responded correctly that CT gave more radiation than chest radiography. Seventy-four percent felt that a diagnosis using CT was more important than worrying about radiation. White patients wanted a more definitive test despite more radiation, while blacks and patients with less pain wanted an explanation of risks and benefits at the expense of time.

"Given the differences in knowledge of radiation stratified by age, race, education, insurance status, and pain and attitudes about radiation stratified by race, insurance status, and pain, our results suggest that we may help emergency department patients better with targeted teaching about radiation, decreasing their pain, discussing risks and benefits, and asking them to participate in the ordering of their diagnostic tests," the authors conclude.

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