Radiology reports: examining radiologist and clinician preferences regarding style and content

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2001 Mar;176(3):591-8. doi: 10.2214/ajr.176.3.1760591.


Objective: The introduction of picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) frequently includes the option of computer-generated itemized reports. This motivated us to reassess the merits of traditional prose dictated reports. This study examines radiologist and clinician preferences regarding report style and content.

Materials and methods: The study was conducted in two parts. The first part was a retrospective audit of existing medical imaging prose reports to determine their content. The second part comprised a questionnaire containing three mock clinical scenarios. Three pairs of reports were provided for each scenario, with only essential information in the first pair, some optional information in the second, and the most complete report in the third. Each pair consisted of a prose and itemized report with identical content. Participants ranked reports by preference and were asked specific questions regarding report content. The questionnaires were mailed to referring clinicians and administered during an interactive forum to staff radiologists, radiology fellows, and radiology residents.

Results: The audit of existing reports showed a wide variation in all fields with consistency limited to a given radiologist. Responses to the questionnaire showed that, in general, a majority of radiologists and referring clinicians preferred itemized reports. The itemized report with the most detailed content was ranked highest of all three scenarios.

Conclusion: Prose reports foster a lack of standardization of content among different radiologists. Itemized reports facilitate complete documentation of information and measurements and are more popular with both radiologists and referring clinicians.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Medical Audit
  • Medical Records*
  • Radiology Information Systems*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires