Background: There is increasing awareness among pediatric radiologists of the potential risks associated with ionizing radiation in medical imaging. However, it is not known whether there has been a corresponding increase in awareness among pediatricians.
Objective: To establish the level of awareness among pediatricians of the recent publicity on radiation risks in children, knowledge of the relative doses of radiological investigations, current practice regarding parent/patient discussions, and the sources of educational input.
Materials and methods: Multiple-choice survey.
Results: Of 220 respondents, 105 (48%) were aware of the 2001 American Journal of Roentgenology articles on pediatric CT and radiation, though only 6% were correct in their estimate of the quoted lifetime excess cancer risk associated with radiation doses equivalent to pediatric CT. A sustained or transient increase in parent questioning regarding radiation doses had been noticed by 31%. When estimating the effective doses of various pediatric radiological investigations in chest radiograph (CXR) equivalents, 87% of all responses (and 94% of CT estimates) were underestimates. Only 15% of respondents were familiar with the ALARA principle. Only 14% of pediatricians recalled any relevant formal teaching during their specialty training. The survey response rate was 40%.
Conclusion: Awareness of radiation protection issues among pediatricians is generally low, with widespread underestimation of relative doses and risks.