A health survey of radiologic technologists

Cancer. 1992 Jan 15;69(2):586-98. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19920115)69:2<586::aid-cncr2820690251>3.0.co;2-3.


A health survey of more than 143,000 radiologic technologists is described. The population was identified from the 1982 computerized files of the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, which was established in 1926. Inactive members were traced to obtain current addresses or death notifications. More than 6000 technologists were reported to have died. For all registrants who were alive when located, a detailed 16-page questionnaire was sent, covering occupational histories, medical conditions, and other personal and lifestyle characteristics. Nonrespondents were contacted by telephone to complete an abbreviated questionnaire. More than 104,000 responses were obtained. The overall response rate was 79%. Most technologists were female (76%), white (93%), and employed for an average of 12 years; 37% attended college, and approximately 50% never smoked cigarettes. Radiation exposure information was sought from employer records and commercial dosimetry companies. Technologists employed for the longest times had the highest estimated cumulative exposures, with approximately 9% with exposures greater than 5 cGy. There was a high correlation between cumulative occupational exposure and personal exposure to medical radiographs, related, in part, to the association of both factors with attained age. It is interesting that 10% of all technologists allowed others to practice taking radiographs on them during their training. Nearly 4% of the respondents reported having some type of cancer, mainly of the skin (1517), breast (665), and cervix (726). Prospective surveys will monitor cancer mortality rates through use of the National Death Index and cancer incidence through periodic mailings of questionnaires. This is the only occupational study of radiation employees who are primarily women and should provide new information on the possible risks associated with relatively low levels of exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allied Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Technology, Radiologic*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workforce