Purpose: A literature review was carried out, guided by the question, What are the important elements of a high-quality radiology written report?
Methods: Two papers known to the authors were used as a basis for 5 PubMed search strategies. Exclusion criteria were applied to retrieved citations. Reference lists of retrieved citations were scanned for additional relevant papers and exclusion criteria applied to these. Web sites of professional radiology organizations were scanned for guidelines relating to the written radiology report. Retrieved guidelines were appraised using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research & Evaluation instrument. Methodologies of retrieved papers were not suitable for conventional appraisal, and an evidence table was constructed.
Results: The search strategy identified 25 published papers and 4 guidelines. Published study methodologies included 1 randomized controlled trial; 1 before-and-after study of interventions; 10 observational studies, audits, or analyses; 12 surveys; and 1 narrative review of the literature.
Conclusions: Existing guidelines have a number of weaknesses with regard to scope and purpose, methods of development, stakeholder consultation, and editorial independence and applicability. There is a major gap in published studies relating to testing of interventions to improve report quality using conventional randomized controlled trial methods. Published studies and guidelines generally support report content, including clinical history, examination quality, description of findings, comparison, and diagnosis. Important report attributes include accuracy, clarity, and certainty. There is wide variation in the language used to describe imaging findings and diagnostic certainty. Survey participants strongly preferred reports with structured or itemized formats, but few studies exist regarding the effect of report structure on quality.
Copyright 2010 American College of Radiology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.